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Fixing ideas: how research is constrained by mandated formalism

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  • Arthur Diamond

Abstract

The puzzle: why do so many economists in principle acknowledge the importance of creative destruction, and yet in practice give so little attention to creative destruction in what they teach and what they research? The answer lies, in part, in the difficulty of obtaining what is viewed as 'hard' evidence in support of some of the central claims. For example, one such claim is that new products contribute more to consumer well-being than price competition on old products. The only kind of evidence accepted by much of the profession is the testing of econometric hypotheses generated from formal models. The sort of evidence found in persuasive sources such as DeLong's 'Cornucopia' consists of historical examples and raw time series. I argue that in the short run, a more pluralistic methodology would be better, and that in the long run, we should seek to understand which methods work best under which circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur Diamond, 2009. "Fixing ideas: how research is constrained by mandated formalism," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 191-206.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:16:y:2009:i:2:p:191-206
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780902940794
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicola Giocoli, 2003. "Modeling Rational Agents," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2585.
    2. Fogel,Robert William, 2004. "The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521004886, April.
    3. J. Bradford DeLong, 2000. "Cornucopia: The Pace of Economic Growth in the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Colander, 2007. "Introduction to The Making of an Economist, Redux," Introductory Chapters,in: The Making of an Economist, Redux Princeton University Press.
    5. Robert W. Fogel, 2005. "Changes in the Physiology of Aging during the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 11233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. David Colander & Hugo Nopo Key Words: Latin American economics, global economics, political economy, graduate training, Latin America, applied economics, 2007. "The Making of a Latin American Global Economist," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0705, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Groß Steffen W., 2010. "Warum sich Ökonomen (wieder) mit Philosophie beschäftigen sollten – und Philosophen (wieder) mit Ökonomie / Why Economists should be more interested in Philosophy (again) – and why Philosophers should," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 61(1), pages 75-94, January.
    2. Slavica Manic, 2016. "Economics Imperialism: SWOT Analysis," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 6(3), pages 151-161, March.

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    Keywords

    methodology; evidence; Schumpeter; pluralism;

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