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Some claims made for critical realism in economics: two case studies

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  • Geoffrey Hodgson

Abstract

Instead of examining critical realism directly, this essay critically examines claims made by two prominent critical realists, namely Andrew Collier and Tony Lawson, on behalf of their philosophy. These are (a) that critical realism supports Marx's law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and (b) that critical realism is illustrated by the workplace organization theory of the relative decline of the British economy. It is argued that the first claim is false and the second is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, propositions that are rejected by Collier and Lawson are shown in fact to be consistent with critical realism. These two case studies raise important questions concerning the claims made for critical realism on behalf of its adherents. Some questions are also posed concerning the character of critical realism as a movement.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 11 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 53-73

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:11:y:2004:i:1:p:53-73

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Keywords: critical realism; Marxism; abstraction; explanation;

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  1. Baert, Patrick, 1996. "Realist Philosophy of the Social Sciences and Economics: A Critique," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(5), pages 513-22, September.
  2. Hodgson, Geoff, 1989. "Institutional Rigidities and Economic Growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 79-101, March.
  3. Kilpatrick, Andrew & Lawson, Tony, 1980. "On the Nature of Industrial Decline in the UK," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 85-102, March.
  4. Bernard Walters & David Young, 1999. "Is Critical Realism the Appropriate Basis for Post Keynesianism?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 22(1), pages 105-123, October.
  5. Stephanie Blankenburg & Clive Lawson & Tony Lawson & Paul Lewis & Stephen Pratten & Jochen Runde, 2002. "Introduction," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(6), pages 679-681, November.
  6. Runde, Jochen, 1998. "Assessing Causal Economic Explanations," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(2), pages 151-72, April.
  7. Downward, Paul, 2000. "A Realist Appraisal of Post-Keynesian Pricing Theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 211-24, March.
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