Re: [OPE] epistemological and scientific questions

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Mon Dec 15 2008 - 15:21:01 EST

on 2008-12-15 01:37 Howard Engelskirchen wrote:
> I'm trying to insist that the projects of science, including Marxism,
> are better understood as realist.

Perhaps we are talking past each other. I'm not sure we actually differ
in substance. In the initial mail I stated that I'm an advocate of
scientific realism.

> My concern with models was with the way economists, for example, can
> abstract from this or that without regard to whether the way they
> abstract remains consistent with or accesses more fundamental causal
> determinations. Ptolemy showed we can enrich our models endlessly if
> all we want to do is make sure we get our predictions right, and Marx
> could be understood to insist that bourgeois models make Monsieur le
> Capital and Madame la Terre pirouette to a Ptolemaic tune.

Indeed, accurate predictions is only one of the criteria used.
Generality and, all else being equal, simplicity are other. The example
of Ptolemy is by the way analogous to over-fitting in system
identification (one fits a model perfectly to the previously observed
data, but fails terribly with new data. Poor predictions of future
observations in other words.).

Please have a look at my recent reply to Dogan and the article by
Jennings. I think they answer your other questions.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Mon Dec 15 15:30:08 2008

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