A SEARCH FOR THE GROWTH OF ECONOMIC KNOWLEDGE: POPPER AND METHODOLOGICAL PROGRESS
"What is truth? What is knowledge? How can knowledge be identified? How can the growth of knowledge be enhanced? What are the relationships among epistemology, methodology, and the history of science? What is the proper relation between theory and fact? How can alternative philosophies and methodologies of science be adequately evaluated? How should scientific theories be appraised? Which methodology provides the best means for the production of knowledge? What have been the methodologies of economics, and are they adequate? Can a methodology that sees only practical success be practically successful?" are some of the questions discussed by this thesis. In general, we present a critical analysis of the philosophy of science, the methodology of science, and a few problems of economics. Although the methodologies of economics are found insufficient, Popper's falsificationism can provide an adequate epistemological foundation for economics and a technology for its growth. More specifically, we present a rational refutation of Friedman's "methodology of positive economics," a response to Boland's "critique of Friedman's critics," and a resolution to the "assumptions debates." First, we find Friedman's essay to be "hopelessly ambiguous" and thus "economics as you like it." When interpreted in its best light, as instrumentalism, Friedman's methodology is inadequate. (1) "Predictive success" is an inadequate regulative principle, since it requires the immutability of the facts and a valid method of induction. (2) Therefore, instrumentalism has no basis upon which to predict the success of an accepted theory. (3) Instrumentalism cannot produce practical utility. (4) Since Friedman's methodology reduces all economic inquiry to the "art of political economy," it cannot supply the knowledge of "what is" or "what should be" that practical application demands. (5) Any claim of "confidence," "success," or practical value from a purely instrumental science presupposes the possession of the same knowledge that science seeks to discover. (6) Friedman's "methodology of positive economics" is inconsistent, since instrumentalism is but the "art of political economy." Is this not a rational refutation of the "methodology of positive economics"?
Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our