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Observations in a Hostile Environment: Morgenstern on the Accuracy of Economic Observations

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  • Marcel Boumans

Abstract

This article provides a history of the treatment of observational errors where conditions cannot be controlled to reduce inaccuracies, more specific, a history of the discussion of errors in social statistics. The main focus is on Oskar Morgenstern’s atypical position in this discussion. In contrast to his contemporary social statisticians, Morgenstern took the natural science approach as the ideal standard for dealing with errors. His position, however, is not atypical when compared with natural science perspectives at that time. His view was attuned with the view of logical empiricism of the 1950s on the difference between natural science and social science: because social science is inexact we need experts to ensure that observations are “scientific.” Moreover, in a “hostile” and “secret” world we need experts to assess the accuracy of the observations.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 44 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (Supplement)
Pages: 114-136

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Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:44:y:2012:i:5:p:114-136

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Related research

Keywords: observation; observing; Oskar Morgenstern;

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Cited by:
  1. Till Düppe & E. Roy Weintraub, 2013. "Siting the New Economic Science: The Cowles Commission’s Activity Analysis Conference of June 1949," Working Papers 0040, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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