Some claims made for critical realism in economics: two case studies

Journal of Economic Methodology 11 (1):53-73 (2004)
Abstract
Instead of examining critical realism directly, this essay critically examines claims made by two prominent critical realists, namely Andrew Collier and Tony Lawson, on behalf of their philosophy. These are (a) that critical realism supports Marx's law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and (b) that critical realism is illustrated by the workplace organization theory of the relative decline of the British economy. It is argued that the first claim is false and the second is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, propositions that are rejected by Collier and Lawson are shown in fact to be consistent with critical realism. These two case studies raise important questions concerning the claims made for critical realism on behalf of its adherents. Some questions are also posed concerning the character of critical realism as a movement.
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