econ434notes1 - History of Economic Doctrines Notes on All...

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History of Economic Doctrines Notes on All Sessions Session 1 Notes Philosophy, Science, and Human Behavior Philosophy encompasses all of our attempts to understand how and why . Science is a subset of philosophy that focuses on explanations of how . If a phenomenon admits of a complete mechanical explanation it will admit of any infinity of others which will account equally well for all of the peculiarities disclosed by the experiment. Henri Poincaré The Foundations of Science Paris 1892 Paradigms related terms: school of thought | weltanschauung | gestalt | model A paradigm comprises a shared collection of beliefs that shapes both our thoughts about how things work and our actions. Broad paradigms may encompass what might be viewed as sub- paradigms, or schools of thought . For example, belief in science and logic is a widely shared paradigm. Various religions are also paradigms. Paradigms provide frameworks for how to think and act, but can prevent us from properly processing information that might improve comprehension of how things work. The Environment of Intellectual History We are pretty sure that the ant has no idea about the world that humans inhabit and there is equally no reason to suppose that the world that is accessible to humans is all the world there is . .. Kenneth Boulding [1987]
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A scientific paradigm may evolve gradually, or a scientific revolution may quickly replace an older paradigm with a newer one. Today’s “myth” was often the commonsensical “truth” of an earlier era. For example, Ptolemaic and then Copernican views of the cosmos were once dominant paradigms, but mistaken assumptions imbedded in these earlier paradigms were ousted only slowly, while other “truer” ideas have been absorbed into the relativism of Einstein and its modern variants. Scientific disciplines may emphasize slightly differentiated models. One important paradigm encompasses classical and neoclassical economic theory. Keynesian theory is a slightly different paradigm, and Marxism represents a major alternative economic paradigm, although much of Marxism seems to have been discarded into the dustbin of history. “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not moreso.” -- Albert Einstein Occam’s razor, also known as the principle of parsimony , suggests that the simplest workable theories are also the best and most useful. But does a preference for simplicity have any scientific foundation? (Note that Occam is sometimes spelled Ockham, after William of Ockham.) More reading: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . Eric Temple Bell, Men of Mathematics Alternative Perspectives on the Universe Determinism: A continuing debate between determinists and believers in free will or a non-deterministic universe [chaotic or stochastic, per e.g., quantum mechanics or Brownian motion] dates back at least as far as ancient Greek philosophers. Determinism
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This note was uploaded on 01/12/2010 for the course ECON 434 taught by Professor Byrns during the Spring '09 term at UNC.

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econ434notes1 - History of Economic Doctrines Notes on All...

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