[OPE-L:4172] Re: Re: Who agrees with Popper?

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Thu Oct 19 2000 - 18:15:11 EDT

Thanks for the references Andy; when I have time -:( I will check them out.

I must "confess" to being very dismissive of post-modernism, so I'm likely
to be a recalcitrant who prefers to stay with Feyerabend and Lakatos (and
Kuhn) as my points of reference on this.

My one reading of Bhaskar--if I am right to see him as in the critical
realist camp--hardly persuaded me to accept that school.

At 14:49 19/10/00 +0100, you wrote:
>Many thanks for the reply. 
>The 'return to practice' view, now prevalent amongst philosophers of 
>science, is precisely the relativist view that it is *not* the job of 
>philosopher to *prescribe* to scientists, to provide a definition of 
>science, as eg 'producer of falsifiable hypotheses', against which 
>actual scientific practice must be judged. Rather, a particular 
>science is what particular scientists do, according to this view. So 
>what you would 'find strange' doesn't occur. Philosophers of 
>science do not define science *a priori* at all. Rather they study 
>the practice of particular sciences, and may attempt to define them 
>*a posteriori*. Not surprisingly, in the case of neoclassical 
>economics, they conclude that neo-classical economics has very 
>little to do with falsifiablity.
>Thus, there is no critical edge to the prevalent philosophy of 
>science. It is thoroughly 'post-modern', if you like. Lakatos went out 
>of favour in philosophy of science circles a long time ago; in 
>economic methodolgy circles (as opposed to circles of practicising 
>economists) few adherents of Lakatos are left - though there are 
>some. Have another look at the excellent intro to the Backhouse 
>collection on all this (there are other useful and more recent 
>collections which i don't have to hand). 
>My own limited knowledge on this comes from my being well 
>acquainted with critical realism (eg. I'm co-editing a book collection 
>on CR and Marxism). CR was born in the philosophy of science 
>discipline as a synthesis of the Popper-Kuhn-Lakatos tradition with 
>the realist tradition (eg Harre, Hansen, Hesse). It spent its early 
>years (the 70s) arguing against positivism (but also Feyerabend) 
>but now spends its time arguing against post-modernism - this 
>indicates the sea change in the philosophy of science (away from 
>Popper-Kuhn-Lakatos), and in the social science and humanities 
>more generally, towards post-modernism.
>I disagree with the 'return to practice' view and with CR, and also 
>with any 'falsifiability' view, by the way, at least as the term 
>'falsifiablility' is usually understood. The tension between 
>prescription and description is a manifestion of the contradiction 
>between the universal and the particular that drives the dialectic. 
>But I remain very interested to find out where other people stand. 
>Who believes in 'falsifiablity' as a litmus test for science? This is an 
>important question. For example, the fact that Steve and myself 
>have very different readings of Capital will be related to our different 
>readings of the state of play in contemporary philosophy of science.
>Thanks again,
>On 19 Oct 2000, at 22:53, Steve Keen wrote:
>> This will be an almost as brief reply as my previous one, because of other
>> time pressures.
>> I interpret Lakatos' concept of Scientific Research Programs as being
>> potentially degenerative as describing the way in which Marxists have
>> reacted to the criticisms which have been cast under the rubric of the
>> transformation problem: they have forever adjusted the "protective belt" of
>> ancillary hypotheses in order to protect what they perceive as the "hard
>> core"--being the assertion that labor is the only source of surplus value.
>> I see Lakatos' concepts as continuing Popper's distinction between science
>> and non-science, though in a far more subtle, sophisticated and
>> historically accurate form.
>> I haven't kept up with the philosophy of science since Lakatos--though I
>> have read all the references you note below. I dispute that it is Popper's
>> litmus test which has been rejected. What has been rejected are his
>> concepts of how scientists do and should behave. I would find it strange
>> for any philospher of science to define as a science a set of propositions
>> which has been designed to be unfalsifiable--though of course adjusting
>> ancillary assumptions is a normal part of the development of a SRP.
>> Steve
>> At 11:40 19/10/00 +0100, you wrote:
>> >Steve,
>> >
>> >I ask again, a point of agreement amongst whom? I flatly disagree 
>> >with you if you say it is agreed by either economic methodologists 
>> >or by philosophers of science. See for example the well known 
>> >collection on economic methodology edited by Roger Backhouse, 
>> >'New directions in economic methodology' (Routledge 1994).  But 
>> >more than that consider the entire development of economic 
>> >methodology since Blaug's seminal text on the topic. Blaug 
>> >asserts not just Popper-Lakatos's general view but also the specific 
>> >one regarding the litmus test. And it is this litmus test, more than 
>> >anything else, that *has* been rejected by most people in the field. 
>> >What on earth is the current 'return to practice' if it isn't a rejection 
>> >of the litmus test? How then can you assert that it (the litmus test) 
>> >remains a point of agreement?
>> >
>> >At the very least you must argue for this contentious assertion (one 
>> >that is incorrect on my view!)
>> >
>> >Andy
>> >
>> >PS I have been unable to solve the problem of the 'send reply to' 
>> >field. Any help on this would be appreciated.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >------- Forwarded message follows -------
>> >Date sent:      	Thu, 19 Oct 2000 21:04:54 +1000
>> >To:             	Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk
>> >From:           	Steve Keen <s.keen@uws.edu.au>
>> >Subject:        	Re: [OPE-L:4155] Who agrees with Popper? [re OPE-L:4154]
>> >
>> >Popper's theory of how a science does develop and should practice has been
>> >rejected since Kuhn. But his litmus test remains a point of agreement.
>> >
>> >Steve
Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
University of Western Sydney Macarthur
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