David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (2):169-189 (2002)
Economists seldom make explicit use of functional explanation, although they sometimes use it implicitly. Functional theorizing has lost favour among social scientists in recent years, and few are now willing to adopt functional language. This paper argues that, despite some drawbacks, explicit functional methods have several attractive features, including a pluralistic attitude to causality, an awareness of stratification and emergence, and a compatibility with a realist perspective. Functional methods on their own cannot provide full causal explanations, but they can raise important theoretical issues often neglected in mainstream economics.
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Ernest Nagel (1961). The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. Harcourt, Brace & World.
Jon Elster (1983). Explaining Technical Change: A Case Study in the Philosophy of Science. Universitetsforlaget.
William Outhwaite (1987). New Philosophies of Social Science: Realism, Hermeneutics, and Critical Theory. Macmillan Education.
Alvin W. Gouldner (1972). The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. Science and Society 36 (1):93-95.
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