Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Methodological Absolutism in Economics

What I have always regarded as the most arrogantly absurd (and absurdly arrogant) element of the usual positivist critique of Austrian methodology is calling the latter "dogmatic" and "absolutist" in its choice of research methods.

Just think of it - even the most intransigent Austrian apriorists do not claim that pure logic holds all the answers regarding the nature of the economic universe - what they say is that with respect to certain disciplines (e.g., economic theory) it is logic, while with respect to other disciplines (e.g., economic history) it is empirics, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a pretty humble and moderate view.

Positivists, on the other hand, are precisely the ones who claim that there is a single source of answers (empirics) to all meaningful economic questions, and that no "armchair theorizing" can effectively challenge this view. It does not seem hard to tell who is the dogmatic and the absolutist here.

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