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Pure Duals, Derived Duals and Paretian Fiscal Sociology


  • Michael McLure

    () (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)


Sheila Dow has been critical of mainstream economic theories, especially general equilibrium, for reflecting a ‘Cartesian mode of thought’ where dualistic categories are utilised to formally determine precise theoretical outcomes which, she contends, are poorly linked to reality. Instead, she advocates a less deterministic methodology that derives from a ‘Babylonian mode of thought’, where analytical categories do not depend on dualistic definitions. This study considers Paretian fiscal sociology in Italy with reference to Dow’s strong anti-dualism and the more moderate anti-dualism of Andrew Mearman, which accepts use of pure duals and derived duals on a temporary basis. It is concluded that the combination of non-Cartesian and Cartesian approaches to fiscal sociology and public finance that developed in Italy under the influence of Vilfredo Pareto are largely immune from Dow’s strong critique, because the Cartesian aspect is limited and qualified. They also share some methodological similarities with Mearman’s more moderate anti-dualism.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael McLure, 2004. "Pure Duals, Derived Duals and Paretian Fiscal Sociology," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 04-25, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:04-25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dow, Sheila C, 1997. "Mainstream Economic Methodology," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 73-93, January.
    2. Dow, Sheila C, 1990. "Beyond Dualism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 143-157, June.
    3. Jurgen Backhaus, 2002. "Fiscal Sociology: What For?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 55-77, January.
    4. Victoria Chick, 2003. "Theory, method and mode of thought in Keynes's General Theory," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 307-327.
    5. Andrew Mearman, 2005. "Sheila Dow's concept of dualism: clarification, criticism and development," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 619-634, July.
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