Is Coase a Realist?

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 28 (1):5-31 (1998)
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Ronald Coase has been a vigorous critic of mainstream economic theory, arguing that it is unrealistic and that a good theory is realistic. The attributes "realistic" and "unrealistic" appear in three senses at least in Coase: one related to narrow ness and breadth; another related to abstracting from particularities (and the issue of "blackboard economics"); and the third related to correspondence with the legal. This does not yet make Coase an advocate of realism. It is therefore separately argued that each of the three kinds of "realisticness" as a property of theories is consistent with realism as a theory of theories



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Uskali Mäki
University of Helsinki

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