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The eclectic economist: a guide for becoming a radical pluralist

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:39 authored by Imko Meyenburg
The aim of this thesis is to explore eclecticism, its relationship with pluralism and to achieve a suitable definition and justification for its adoption with regard to economic research. In this dissertation eclecticism shall be understood as a philosophical leitmotif for the individual researcher to be unprejudiced, to have no commitment to a particular school of thought but to treat them all as a priori valuable for the pursuit of one's research aspiration by deliberately choosing from the available range of historical and modern economic concepts, ideas, theories and practices. To achieve this particular aim, this thesis i) investigates the history of eclecticism as a philosophical concept as well as its modern applications, ii) develops a differentiation between eclecticism and pluralism based on an inquiry into the pluralist literature, iii) formulates a suitable definition of eclecticism and iv) develops a justification for eclectic research in economics. The justification formulated in this thesis specifically focuses on the question of how eclectic choice of theory, methods and concepts from different schools of thought can be made without commitment to any reference framework that would define the criteria from which to choose from. The result of the philosophical enquiry suggests that eclectic choice is justified, when choice is understood as migration between different cognitive aims and methodological norms (Laudan, 1978, 1987, 1996) on different levels of abstraction, and can become necessary when this migration is used to trigger epistemological crises (MacIntyre, 1977), which are events for a school of thought, or entire disciplines, to make any intellectual progress. The research further argues that migration on the level of schools of thought, and their respected cognitive aims and methodological norms, remains easy for the eclectic. On the other hand, migration between higher levels becomes increasingly difficult the further one moves to those higher levels. The thesis concludes that eclecticism is a recommendable research philosophy for the individual economists, who wishes to internalise pluralism.



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