Marx's theory of social forms and Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programs
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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economists. According to Rosenberg, Milton Friedman's positive methodology is being supplanted by Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programs (MSRP). At any rate, the Kuhnian wave of the seventies is being swallowed up by the Lakatosian program. (Redman 142) There have been a number of attempts to comprehend mainstream (bourgeois) economics as a Lakatosian research program, or as a set of competing research programs. (Latsis, ed. passim; de Marchi and Blaug, eds.)i In contrast, the extent to which the Marxian study of capitalism can be interpreted from this perspective has hardly been explored.ii In the following sections some provisional steps in this direction will be taken. I shall first introduce a reading of Marx's Capital that emphasizes the systematic dialectic of economic categories unifying that work. I shall then ask whether we can arrive at a better understanding of Marx's systematic dialectic through considering how it contributes to a scientific research 1 program in Lakatos's sense of the term. Two other themes will arise along the way. Certain shortcomings in Lakatos's framework will be discussed. Also, a number of reasons for considering the Marxian research program superior to that of neoclassical economics will be mentioned. It should be stressed that the main topic of the present paper is the role of systematic dialectics in the Marxian research program. The other themes go far beyond the scope of single paper. Lakatos's work can be understood as a response to the dead-end of naive falsificationism. According to this simplistic methodology, theories are to be tested by deducing predictions from them and then determining whether the events predicted occur. If the predicted events do take place at some later time, this does not verify the validity of the theory. That would be to commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent; there may be many other theories that also lead to the prediction in question. In contrast, if the predicted events do not take place, that is sufficient to falsify the proposed theory..
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