Eliassen_2016.pdf (977.08 kB)
On the liberty of thought and discussion in economics
thesisposted on 2023-08-30, 14:33 authored by Roman Linneberg Eliassen
This thesis offers a new justification and interpretation of “pluralism in economics” and discusses how it can be implemented. Calls for pluralism reflect discontent with the exclusive dominance of one approach in economics. This perceived monism entails twofold oppression of contesting theories with a legitimate claim to truth and of the academics that promote them. A doctrine of pluralism thus has to satisfy both an epistemological and a moral condition. However, the literature on pluralism in economics either overly associates pluralism with heterodox economics or fails to provide sufficient epistemological and institutional recommendations. The thesis seeks to abstract from the content of current orthodox and heterodox theory in order to give a consistent interpretation of pluralism as a stable and lasting doctrine. Firstly, given epistemic uncertainty, pluralism is required for the advancement of knowledge, the consequences of which are drawn by application of Mill’s arguments for the liberty of thought and discussion and their further development in Feyerabend’s methodological pluralism. Secondly, the doctrine must secure the right of all academics to pursue truth in the ways they deem fit. Drawing on Habermas’ theory of communicative rationality and Longino’s norms for scientific discourse, ideal conditions for pluralist scientific exchange are delineated. Reviewing sociological evidence, it is shown that there is a well-organized hierarchical system in the discipline that reinforces monism through education, journals, hiring/promotion and research funding. Given these constraints, the calls for pluralism amount to a call for liberal education reform in economics, in which the aim is to foster the intellectual development of students. Pluralism is not about accommodating a range of approaches; pluralism ensures an environment that yields academics capable of truth pursuit in a world of uncertain knowledge. However, intricate links between economics and power relations in society may inhibit its feasibility.
InstitutionAnglia Ruskin University
- Accepted version