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Methodenstreit 2011? Historical perspective on the contemporary debate over how to reform economics

Peter Spiegler () and William Milberg ()
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William Milberg: Department of Economics, New School for Social Research

No 1106, Working Papers from New School for Social Research, Department of Economics

Abstract: The general failure of economists to predict the financial crash of 2008 gave rise to a lively and apparently wide-ranging debate over the state of the discipline and the need (if any) for significant reform. But has the actual debate been robust enough to contemplate significant reform, or has it fallen short? We propose a framework for assessing the depth of methodological debate and apply it to the current methodological debate. Doing so, we find that the current debate has been shallow, especially when compared to historical precedents of deep debate such as the late 19th-century Methodenstreit and the period of Keynesian innovation. Moreover, we conclude that unless the few voices pressing for deep debate are given their due, there is little hope that the recent disciplinary crisis will be met with an appropriate level of reform.

Keywords: Financial crisis; methodology; ontology; history of economic thought; Keynes; Methodenstreit (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
Date: 2011-10
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