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Friedman’s Methodology: A Puzzle and A Proposal for Generating Useful Debates through Causal Comparisons (with a postscript on positive vs. normative theories)

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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, 2008. "Friedman’s Methodology: A Puzzle and A Proposal for Generating Useful Debates through Causal Comparisons (with a postscript on positive vs. normative theories)," MPRA Paper 7458, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7458
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin Hoover, 2004. "Milton Friedman?s Stance: The Methodology of Causal Realism," Working Papers 66, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mejía Cubillos, Javier, 2012. "Ética y Justicia. Reflexiones a partir de The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen
      [Ethics and justice. Reflections on The Idea of ​​Justice by Amartya Sen]
      ," MPRA Paper 37458, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Positive economics; normative economics; prediction; realism; scientific realism; causal comparisons; causal depth;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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