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January 10, 2019



Evidence for some is something to be carefully controlled, framed and measured out in very limited quantities. One can include the techniques of shredding, misfiling, denying, economy and twisting. Then of course you can go in for proposal first, evidence later. This is not so different from the scientist's hypothesis/look around/experiment game but with ample opportunities to ignore the bits that don't fit.

Personally I am in favour of having a wide ranging look at evidence, good and suspect, a peering into dark corners and a turning over of stones. But too often evidence gets shut up in boxes of a physical and administrative and mental kind, bad decisions quickly follow.


Thank you Chris. We can agree on many things. I did not know about Yeh's paper. Interesting read for me. I was thinking about your conclusion arriving at Feyerbend's work.

Could you not have also driven towards MacIntyre's engagement with the social science too? For example, it is a key of his engagement with the 'social sciences' that these 'human' theories have to 'live' with a well known 'counter examples' with their own models, methodologies and contrasting results. MacIntyre gives an example for patterns of crime in large cities. Your 'what would count as evidence here?' also made me think of the debate between Basil Bernstein and Labov about the ablity of working class kids purported 'restricted language codes'. Who you agree with depends it seems to me on how compelling you find Labov's 'counter' evidence.

The following is more of an open question. Is it not the case that Economics as a discipline has been 'reinvented' in modernity, so that the practioners at university and we the citizenship are no longer conscious of the features of the pluralist real,'social science's you allude to above? That politically, this is Economics great merit for the Right: as a 'proper' 'hard-science' discipline. That the Feyerbend like 'playful', 'anything goes' physicist pushing the boundries, breaking the rules of his/her scientific paradigm has been subverted into a pretence that Economic 'hard' science requires a rigid mathmatical,deductive structure that if deviated from, renders the sinner: a non-economist conducting non-science.


I think economics has never really come to terms with the notion of a social science. This is the root of many ills and leads me to agree strongly with your post. It astonishes me that economists get seemingly no exposure to issues in the philosophy of science in university instruction.

The older I get, the more grateful I am to my own teachers some 30 years ago, who introduced me to all that stuff, as well as writers like Elster, Hischmann, Marglin, Glyn, Kalecki and so on, as well as the whole range of theoretical perspectives beyond the mainstream. I genuinely feel sorry for modern day students of the subject.

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