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Friedman’s Methodology: A Puzzle and A Proposal for Generating Useful Debates through Causal Comparisons

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  • Khan, Haider

Abstract

Milton Friedman’s “The Methodology of Positive Economies” is still one of the most widely read pieces on economic methodology. One reason for this might be Friedman’s attractive proposal that economists use theories and hypotheses as pragmatic devices to summarize data and make predictions over the relevant range of observations. Logically, this should lead to a fair minded comparison among many contending theories. However, Friedman's actual examples and discussion of these examples raise a puzzle. The field of comparison seems unduly narrow from the beginning. In my attempt to resolve this, I consider some logical and ontological problems for Friedman's position. I end up by suggesting a scientific realist approach to testing theories by causal comparisons over a wide field of contending theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Khan, Haider, 2005. "Friedman’s Methodology: A Puzzle and A Proposal for Generating Useful Debates through Causal Comparisons," MPRA Paper 7024, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jan 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7024
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/7024/1/MPRA_paper_7024.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Boland, Lawrence A, 1979. "A Critique of Friedman's Critics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 503-522, June.
    2. Kevin Hoover, 2004. "Milton Friedman?s Stance: The Methodology of Causal Realism," Working Papers 66, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic methodology; Milton Friedman's methodology; logic and and ontology; causal comparisons; scientific realism;

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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