Milton Friedman's Epistemology
Friedman published his celebrated "The Methodology of Positive Economics" in 1952. In it Friedman set himself a normative objective: that of defining the procedures and rules with which economists must comply in their research activity in order to achieve 'scientific knowledge'. Despite the radical criticisms brought against it within the profession and, above all, from philosophers of science, Friedman's canons have been the basis for an extraordinary large body of economic research over several decades. By moving from a historical-critical level, this paper sets forth to explain the widespread acceptance in economics of Friedman's canons notwithstanding that from a strictly epistemological point of view his position is patently self-contradictory. Friedman's epistemology, it is argued in the paper, has 'solved' a fundamental problem of methodology, and namely the integration of apriorism and empiricism - a question that had become of central importance in economics since the Thirties and was regarded as the main challenge to the neoclassical scientific paradigm.
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