Economic Epistemology: Hopes and Horrors

Episteme 1 (3):211-222 (2004)
The cultural and epistemic status of science is under attack. Social and cultural studies of science are widely perceived to offer evidence and arguments in support of an anti-science campaign. They portray science as a mundane social endeavour, akin to religion and politics, with no privileged access to truthful information about the real world. Science is under threat and needs defence. Old philosophical legitimations have lost their bite. Alarm bells ring, new troops have to be mobilised. Call economics, the good old friend of the status quo depicting it as a generally beneficial social order while accommodating a rather mundane picture of human behaviour. In contrast to constructivist and relativist sociology of scientific knowledge, economic accounts of science seek to provide a rigorous defence of the cultural and epistemic legitimacy of science by accommodating plausible elements in the sociological accounts and by embedding them in invisible-hand arguments about the functioning of some market-like structure within science. Viewed through economic spectacles, science re-emerges from the ashes as stronger and more beautiful than ever. A spectator raises an innocent question: is economics itself strong and beautiful enough to offer such alleviating services? In order to examine the emerging issue of disciplinary credibility, we need to look at economics itself more closely, and we need to address traditional issues in the philosophy of science as well as less traditional issues of reflexivity. We will see that the above caricature concerning the role of economics in the science wars calls for heavy qualifications if not wholesale rejection
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2004.1.3.211
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References found in this work BETA
Uskali Mäki (2005). Models Are Experiments, Experiments Are Models. Journal of Economic Methodology 12 (2):303-315.

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Uskali Mäki (2008). Method and Appraisal in Economics, 1976–2006. Journal of Economic Methodology 15 (4):409-423.

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