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Reflexivity: curse or cure?

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  • John Davis
  • Matthias Klaes

Abstract

Reflexivity has been argued to be self-defeating and potentially devastating for the sociology of scientific knowledge. We first survey various meanings associated with the concept of reflexivity and then provide an interpretation of Velazquez's Las Meninas to generate a three-part taxonomy of reflexivity, distinguishing between 'immanent', 'epistemic' and 'transcendent' reflexivity. This provides the basis for engaging with reflexivity as a problem in the economic methodology literature, focusing on recent contributions to the topic by Hands, Sent, Maki and Mirowski. Employment of our taxonomy clarifies the similarities and differences between the various forms of reflexivity that can be identified or are addressed in these contributions. Our main argument is that a successful response to the malign aspects of reflexivity requires a simultaneous consideration of various levels of reflexivity and relies on social-historical perspectives.

Suggested Citation

  • John Davis & Matthias Klaes, 2003. "Reflexivity: curse or cure?," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 329-352.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:10:y:2003:i:3:p:329-352 DOI: 10.1080/1350178032000110882
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John Davis & Matthias Klaes, 2006. "Imprecise precision: Rejoinder to Basbøll," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 121-123.
    2. Dolfsma, W.A. & McMaster, R. & Finch, J., 2005. "Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-067-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    3. John B. Davis, 2003. "The Conception of the Individual in Non-Cooperative Game Theory," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-095/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. John B. Davis, 2013. "Mark Blaug on the historiography of economics," Chapters,in: Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes, chapter 12, pages 159-176 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2013. "Government Failure," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15372, September.
    6. Lehmann-Waffenschmidt, Marco & Sandri, Serena, 2007. "Recursivity and Self-Referentiality of Economic Theories and Their Implications for Bounded Rational Actors," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 03/07, Technische Universität Dresden, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.

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