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A single specimen of a shrimp-like crustacean, Devonostenopus pennsylvaniensis, new genus and species is described from the Huntley Mountain Formation, which is Devonian–Carboniferous (Mississippian) in age. The specimen was collected in north-central Pennsylvania. Devonostenopus pennsylvaniensis is attributed to Stenopodidae. Co-occurrence of the specimen with pinnules of Archaeopteris halliana Goeppert, 1852, suggests that it is Devonian in age. Occurrence of a stenopodidean in the Devonian of North America is significant, as only three definitive decapods have been previously described from the Paleozoic and only two have been described from the Devonian. The earliest stenopodideans described to date are Cretaceous (Cenomanian and Santonian) in age. As such, Devonostenopus pennsylvaniensis extends the geologic range of Stenopodidea from Cretaceous to Late Devonian. Occurrence of a stenopodidean in the Devonian of North America, as well as the occurrence of the only two other known Devonian decapods in North America, suggests that Laurentia might have been a major area of endemism for Devonian decapods.
This paper discusses the Sonnenschein–Mantel–Debreu (SMD) theorems in general equilibrium theory. It argues that the SMD results were related to the previous literature on the integrability of demand. The integrability question involved rationalizing individual demand functions, and the SMD theorems asked the same question about aggregate (market) excess demand functions. The paper’s two goals are to demonstrate how the SMD results followed naturally from the earlier work on integrability, and to point out that the profession’s reception was quite different; the integrability results were considered a success story, while the SMD results were quite negative.
A man who has a burning interest in pressing issues of public policy, who has a strong desire to learn how the economic system really works in order that that knowledge may be used, is not likely to stay within the bounds of a method of analysis that denies him the knowledge he seeks. He will escape the shackles of formalism, …A far better way is to try to derive theoretical generalizations to fit as full and comprehensive set of related facts about the real world as it is possible to get.
(Friedman 1946, 631)
Milton Friedman's 1953 paper “The methodology of positive economics’ (hereafter F53) is clearly the best-known and most cited work in twentieth-century economic methodology. F53 often exhausts the practicing economist's exposure to the methodological literature. As the philosopher Daniel Hausman put it: “It is the only essay on methodology that a large number, perhaps a majority, of economists have ever read’ (Hausman 1992, 162).
There is a vast methodological literature surrounding F53, but this chapter will not approach the essay from the perspective of any of these familiar methodological positions. For example, what follows will not: (1) summarize Friedman's argument in any detail; (2) try to situate Friedman's essay within the existing philosophical, particularly philosophy of science, literature; (3) make the case for a particular interpretation of key words like “assumptions,” “realism,” “prediction,” etc;(4) try to reconcile (or critique) the relationship between Friedman's methodological advice and his actual scientific practice; (5) evaluate the adequacy of Friedman's stated methodology as an economic methodology. What follows is broadly concerned with F53, but it will not address any of the traditional methodological questions associated with Friedman's famous essay.
D. Wade Hands (1951–) was educated at the University of Houston and then Indiana University and has taught at the University of Puget Sound since 1980. He is one of the leading figures in contemporary economic methodology. Hands was President of the History of Science Society in 2005–2006 and is currently the editor of The Journal of Economic Methodology. His most important book, Reflection without Rules, won the Spengler Book Prize from the History of Economic Society in 2004. This essay provides a brief introduction to the ideas of Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos and to the issues that arise in applying them to the philosophical understanding of economics.
The purpose of this chapter is to critically reappraise the methodological advice offered to economists by Popperian philosophy, in particular Popperian falsificationism and Lakatos's ‘methodology of scientific research programmes’. These two philosophical positions and the difficulties they raise for economic methodology are carefully considered in the chapter. It is argued that while economists have benefited from the influence of Popperian philosophy in a number of ways, neither falsificationism nor Lakatos's methodology provide an appropriate guide to the acceptance or rejection of economic theories. The implications and caveats surrounding this argument are considered in the conclusion.
Popperian philosophy of science has been extremely influential in economic methodology. Popperian ‘falsificationism’, first introduced into economics by Hutchison (1938), remains one of the dominant approaches to economic methodology.
HES Presidential addresses often attempt to answer a substantive question (or number of related questions) in the history of economic thought. The answers provided are not “answers” in the sense that one finds an answer to a simple numerical problem; rather they are historical narratives, stories, that bring the listener/reader to a new, and hopefully deeper, understanding of a particular author, piece of economic literature, or episode in the history of economic thought.
The demise of the so-called Received View within mainstream philosophy of science and the subsequent Kuhnian and Quinean revolutions have left contemporary science theory in a state of relative disarray. While there are many different responses to this malaise – evolutionary epistemology, various naturalisms, and the revival of pragmatism, for example – the one that will be examined here is an approach to scientific knowledge that has evolved independently of such philosophical developments. The approach is constructivism, or the sociological turn, and while it remains controversial, it is certainly one of the main competing frameworks within contemporary science theory. Although a wide range of different programs fall under the broad constructivist rubric, some common themes clearly emerge from all of these different approaches. Most importantly, constructivism replaces armchair a priori philosophy, but unlike certain naturalistic approaches, it replaces it with inquiries into the social characteristics of the knowledge production (and legitimization) process. According to constructivists, science is fundamentally social, and for many this means that science, and scientists, should be studied in essentially the same way that one would study any other social or cultural phenomenon: using the tools of the human and social sciences. Both the philosophy of science and the self-descriptions of those within the scientific community tell us that legitimate scientific beliefs are determined exclusively by nature: that the “scientific method” is a procedure that allows privileged access to the voice of nature.
Those who can, do science; those who can't prattle about its methodology.
[Samuelson 1992, p. 240]
If we were to believe many economic methodologists, particularly those attempting to impress philosophers of science, you would think that all methodologists sit around “appraising” the work of economists. I have a vision of these guys sitting around in priestly robes … passing judgment on people such as Becker, Arrow, Samuelson, Friedman, Keynes, etc. On what basis do they criticize such economists? Do they accuse economists of being unscientific? Who cares?
[Boland 1997, p. 152]
Back in 1982, a brief but brusque exchange, touching on the relations between Philosophy and Economics, took place between James Tobin, the liberal, Nobel Laureate, Yale economist, and Robert Nozick, the conservative Harvard philosopher. In the course of a debate … Tobin exclaimed at Nozick: “There's nothing more dangerous than a philosopher who's learned a little bit of economics.” To which Nozick immediately responded: “Unless it's an economist who hasn't learned any philosophy.”
[Hutchison 1996, p. 187]
This book has three separate but interrelated goals. The first is to provide a survey of recent developments in the field of economic methodology. The second goal is to survey contemporary science theory as it relates to economics and economic methodology. I say contemporary “science theory” in order to include fields like the sociology of scientific knowledge and the rhetoric of science as well as the more traditional fields of philosophy of science and epistemology. Both of these surveys are frankly interpretative, but the survey of economic methodology is perhaps less interpretative than the discussion of science theory.
If it is true that there are but two kinds of people in the world – the logical positivists and the god-damned English professors – then I suppose I am a logical positivist.
[Glymour 1980, ix]
… is a positivist, i.e., one of those who always thinks of “science” with a capital S … and use it in a context which conveys instructions pronounced in the awe-inspired tone chiefly familiar in public prayer. This emotional pronouncement of value judgments condemning emotion and value judgments seems to the reviewer a symptom of a defective sense of humor.
[Knight 1940, p. 151]
Everybody knows nowadays that logical positivism is dead. But nobody seems to suspect that there may be a question to be asked here – the question “Who is responsible?” … I fear that I must admit responsibility.
[Popper 1976b, p. 88]
Once, in those dear dead days, almost, but not quite beyond recall, there was a view of science that commanded widespread popular and academic assent. This view deserves a name. I shall call it “Legend.” … So much for the dear dead days. Since the 1950s the mists have begun to fall. Legend's lustre has dimmed. While it may continue to figure in textbooks and journalistic expositions, numerous intelligent critics now view Legend as smug, uninformed, unhistorical, and analytically shallow.
[Kitcher 1993, pp. 3–5]
The last half of the previous chapter examined a number of economists whose methodological writings were broadly informed by “positivist” philosophy of science.
Philosophers, after all, are like everyone else; they want people who don't do what they do to believe that what they do is universally enabling. They want us to believe that the only good king is a philosopher king, and that the only good judge is a philosopher judge, and the only good baseball player is a philosopher baseball player. Well, I don't know about you, but I hope that my kings, if I should ever have any, are good at being kings, and that my judges are good at being judges, and that the players on my team throw strikes and keep 'em off the bases.
[Fish 1987, p. 1800]
Compared with other schools of economics the neoclassicals are notably butch. They are a motorcycle gang among economists, strutting about the camp with clattering matrices and rigorously fixed points, sheathed in leather, repelling affection. They are not going to like being told that they should be more feminine.
[McCloskey 1993, p. 76]
The last three chapters have focused on various contemporary developments within the philosophy of science and science studies. Although these two areas constitute much of contemporary science theory, they do not exhaust it, and more important, they do not exhaust the work that is relevant to the changing face of economic methodology. For one thing, despite the impact of logical positivism, not all philosophy is philosophy of science, and more general developments within disciplinary philosophy also impact debates about scientific and economic knowledge.
This book was conceived during a long walk on a sunny North Carolina beach with Bruce Caldwell and Uskali Mäki in the late summer of 1993. It had a very long and – from the author's point of view – often a rather difficult gestation period. While the basic idea seemed (and still seems) quite straightforward – write an interpretative survey of recent work in economic methodology and the various developments within contemporary science theory that are relevant to it – at various points the execution of the task felt overwhelming. One problem was, of course, the “moving target” nature of the subject matter; there were many times where the relevant literature was literally appearing in print at a faster rate than I could read it, much less synthesize, or write about it. Another difficulty stemmed from the fact that my own views about the composition of the “relevant” science theory kept changing and, in particular, expanding during the evolution of the project. Finally, of course, there is always the issue of that nebulous adjective “interpretative,” and how it should be, well, interpreted. Although the finished product is undoubtedly a compromise on these and other issues, it is a well-deliberated compromise; I have tried to present a vast amount of literature in a way that is informative, balanced, and fair.
A complete list of all the individuals that I have talked to about these matters would include the majority of the people that I have come into professional contact with during the last twenty years.