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Human Economists and Abstract Methodology

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  • Ralph W Bailey

Abstract

Many economists, and even methodologists, believe that the very abstractness of abstract methodology (AM) betrays it into either authoritarianism or vapidity. But though AM can certainly suffer from these defects, abstractness is not the cause of them. The root problems, arising from AMs justificationist history, are its impersonalism, its assumption that the logic of research is Aristotelian, and its stress on the distracting empiricist distinction between observation and on observation. Perhaps, then, AM can be revived in a form which attends to individual researchers and their actual use of logic, and applies to all branches of research. A revived normative AM, attempting to foster logical progress, would consider the situation of the individual researcher, learning from the approach to ethics called virtue theory as it did so. Methodologists of economics, despite considerable agreement about the deficiencies of modern economic research, have proved impotent to correct them. They should switch some of their attention from research outputs towards individual researchers and their progress; and to developing research utopias in which progressive researchers, and hence research, might flourish.

Suggested Citation

  • Ralph W Bailey, 2012. "Human Economists and Abstract Methodology," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 17(1), pages 49-75, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:112bailey
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    File URL: http://www.economicissues.org.uk/Files/2012/112Bailey.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Sugden, Robert, 1991. "Rational Choice: A Survey of Contributions from Economics and Philosophy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 751-785, July.
    7. Stephan, Paula E., 2010. "The Economics of Science," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    8. Machlup, Fritz, 1978. "Methodology of Economics and Other Social Sciences," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780124645509 edited by Shell, Karl.
    9. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, March.
    10. McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521434751, March.
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