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From fragmentation to ontologically reflexive pluralism

conference contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 12:48 authored by Ioana Negru
States that pluralism is a problem that is confronted by both insiders and outsiders when they enquire into the nature of economics: the fact that there are many diverse organising principles about one and the same phenomenon. Pluralism both relativizes differences and magnifies the decision-problem. As a consequence, the merits or otherwise of pluralism are quickly brought into focus. This paper aims to examine whether the pluralist treatment of different issues in economics is a good or bad development. More specifically the paper seeks to explore how economics can arrive at a position where pluralism fosters a form of conceptual and methodological openness that is critically tolerant i.e. one where alternative ideas are not dismissed out of hand but at the same time have to stand up to an accepted framework of critical analysis in order to gain acceptance within the cannon of economic analysis. Opposition to the pluralist project in part stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of pluralism: pluralism does not advance the acceptance of all theoretical and methodological frameworks concerning certain issues/phenomena in economics (i.e. relativism). Pluralism in the context of a Kuhnian incommensurability of paradigms is thus to be rejected. A pluralist approach can be beneficial as long as different strands of thought are connected. The key to making pluralism work is the actual exchange of ideas and not a plurality without conversations. This is akin to Mill’s espousal of free speech as a mechanisme of subjecten ideas to criticism. Habermas has argued that diverse theoretical and empirical approaches are needed to support informed social criticism. Thus it is important to remember that social sciences can still produce truth in their own mutually exclusive discourses. We contend that it is not possible to advance a concept of pluralism that is based on tolerance and respect of other perspectives but which is devoid of criticism.


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Sixth International Network for Economic Method (INEM) Conference


Madrid, Spain

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ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)

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