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Friedman’s Methodology: A Puzzle and A Proposal for Generating Useful Debates through Causal Comparisons (with a postscript on positive vs. normative theories)

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  • Khan, Haider A.

Abstract

Milton Friedman’s “The Methodology of Positive Economies” is still one of the most widely read pieces on economic methodology. One reason for this might be Friedman’s attractive proposal that economists use theories and hypotheses as pragmatic devices to summarize data and make predictions over the relevant range of observations. Logically, this should lead to a fair minded comparison among many contending theories. However, Friedman's actual examples and discussion of these examples raise a puzzle. The field of comparison seems unduly narrow from the beginning. In my attempt to resolve this, I consider some logical and ontological problems for Friedman's position. I end up by suggesting a scientific realist approach to testing theories by causal comparisons over a wide field of contending theories.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 7457.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision: Mar 2008
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7457

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Keywords: Positive theory; Normative Theory; Predictability; Scientific Realism; Causal Depth; Causal Comparisons;

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Cited by:
  1. Mejía Cubillos, Javier, 2012. "Ética y Justicia. Reflexiones a partir de The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen
    [Ethics and justice. Reflections on The Idea of ​​Justice by Amartya Sen]
    ," MPRA Paper 37458, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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