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Samuels on Methodological Pluralism in Economics

John Davis ()

No 2012-01, Working Papers and Research from Marquette University, Center for Global and Economic Studies and Department of Economics

Abstract: Warren Samuels was an influential proponent of methodological pluralism in economics. This short paper discusses his understanding of methodological pluralism, and argues that it is based on three distinct components: (1) his critique of the idea that theories have epistemic foundations and his "matrix approach to meaningfulness," (2) his belief that the absence of meta-principles for science combined with our human psychology create an existential dilemma for theorists and policy-makers, and (3) his understanding of relativism, social constructivism, and "limited but affirmative" defense of nihilism against the charge of skepticism. The paper closes with a brief discussion of what Samuels' methodological pluralism might tell us about historiography and the history of economics.

Keywords: Samuels; methodological pluralism; economic methodology; economics profession (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B23 B31 B41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012-03
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