The Methodology of Mainstream Economics and its Implications for China's Economic Research

Dissertation, Washington University (1995)

Abstract
This study provides a detailed survey and critical analysis of the methodology of mainstream economics. From this investigation some radical implications are drawn for current Chinese economic research. The purpose of this study, from epistemological and methodological perspectives, is to explain why economics is so advanced in the Western countries and why economics is so backward in the former socialist countries. It is shown that mainstream Western economics is epistemologically and methodologically founded on modern logical empiricism. With the detailed analysis of the historical texts, I have carefully identified where and how each of the leading economic methodologists has been dynamically influenced by the logical positivist philosophy. I also use three-case studies to demonstrate that the development of modern economic science has been generally in keeping with the positivists' methodological prescriptions in both formal and empirical aspects. It is argued that positive economics cannot be separated from positivist philosophy and empiricist methodology. The important implication for Chinese economic research is that economics as a science in China cannot be developed and cultivated in the soil of metaphysical Marxism
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