{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

chapter 3 - 3 The Most Relevant Theories and Methods...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
3 The Most Relevant Theories and Methods Philosophy of science is a highly contested field these days. Yet there is considerable consensus on what is no longer accepted. The falsificationism associated with Karl Popper and the Vienna Circle is almost universally discredited. It is now appre- ciated that no scientific method can give unquestioned falsification (and certainly not proof) of any hypothesis. A host of subsidiary assumptions are always neces- sary for the application of any method. Inconvenient results can always be attri- buted to these. Judgment must always be exercised in the interpretation of any empirical result. As a result, philosophers of science now doubt that there is any one best way of doing science. These facts are unknown or ignored by many prac- ticing economists (and other social scientists) who continue to believe that there is one best way to perform economic analysis, and indeed argue that only statistical analysis can falsify (and for some even prove) theories. This chapter will look first at theories and then at methods. In each case, the full range of theory types or methods is surveyed, and those with particular rele- vance for the study of economic growth are identified. Since no theory or method is perfect, the key strengths and weaknesses of each are outlined. This sets the stage for the evaluation of disciplinary insights in later steps. Yet the analysis in this chapter should also be of direct relevance to interdisciplinary researchers in guiding them to the careful use of theories and methods of particular value to their research program. There is no need here for a lengthy discussion of the general advantages of theoretical and methodological plurality (such as is provided in Szostak 2004). The discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and methods should suffice. 1 Two brief points might nevertheless be made here. With respect to theories, it has long been appreciated by methodologists in many fields that theories should be tested against alternatives. In practice, though, theories are generally tested against no alternative – in large part because few scholars feel comfortable with multiple theories, but also because such tests are easier to design. Even a bad theory, which would fare poorly if tested against a theory with considerable explanatory power, may seem to explain much if tested against noth- ing. With respect to methods, we shall see (and this was shown in great detail in Szostak 2004) that each method is better at investigating some theories than others. In testing one theory against another, then, the use of only one method will generally bias the test in favor of one of the theories. 2 In sum, not only will theoretical and methodological plurality open up a wider range of investigation but it will allow us to better distinguish among competing explanations.
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern