Human economists and abstract methodology

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Many economists, and even methodologists, believe that the very abstractness of abstract methodology (AM) betrays it into either authoritarianism or vapidity.
But though AM can certainly suffer from these defects, abstractness is not the cause of them. The root problems, arising from AM’s justificationist history, are its impersonalism, its assumption that the logic of research is Aristotelian, and its stress on the distracting empiricist distinction between observation and non-observation.
Perhaps, then, AM can be revived in a form which attends to individual researchers and their actual use of logic, and applies to all branches of research. A revived normative AM, attempting to foster ‘logical progress’, would consider the situation of the individual researcher, learning from the approach to ethics called ‘virtue theory’ as it did so.
Methodologists of economics, despite considerable agreement about the deficiencies of modern economic research, have proved impotent to correct them. They should switch some of their attention from research outputs towards individual researchers and their progress; and to developing ‘research utopias’ in which progressive researchers, and hence research, might flourish.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • methodology ethics research economics


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