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'Open-Systems' and Economic Methodology


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  • Andrew Mearman

    (School of Economics, University of the West of England)


This paper discusses some of the methodological implications of an ‘open-systems’ reality. It presents a possible ontology of open systems which draws on various literatures including, but not limited to, Critical Realism. The paper then extrapolates from the ontology to a set of methodological arguments. Many methods in economics presuppose a degree of closure in their operation. Deductive logic is discussed in this context. This constitutes a disjuncture with reality. It could be argued, therefore, that these methods should be rejected. However, an open-systems methodology is also an open system and it will reflect the impact of other literatures. Thus, based on fallibilism and an avoidance of dualism (in Dow’s terms) rejection of so-called ‘closed-systems methods’ is not an option. Also, given the preponderance of closures in available methods, this would leave little scope for investigation. Thus, a strategy of triangulation should be adopted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol in its series Working Papers with number 0402.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uwe:wpaper:0402

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Keywords: methodology; open-systems; triangulation; Critical Realism; deduction; dualism;

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Cited by:
  1. Paul Downward & Andrew Mearman, 2005. "Methodological Triangulation at the Bank of England:An Investigation," Working Papers, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol 0505, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.


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