Reason and Reality in the Methodologies of Economics: An Introduction

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This is an examination of the scientific status of economics from the perspective of practising economists. It studies how they evaluate their theories, the relationship between those theories and the phenomena they are intended to represent, and the philosophy, methodology and scientific credentials of economics. It discusses the tension between economics as the logic of rational choice and as a predictive science, that is reason and reality respectively. Professor Fox surveys the five most influential schools of thought in the methodology of economics, with a special emphasis on theory appraisal: Logical Positivism, Instrumentalism, a priorism, Scientific Realism and Rhetorical Analysis. He assesses the extent to which economists have followed the precepts and consequences of their methodological position. He extends the discussion to consider the purpose of such economic enquiry, the scope of application and the appropriate structure of economic theory, as the legitimate sources of economic knowledge. In conclusion he argues that a resolution of existing and emerging methodological controversies in economics must begin with a better understanding of the various voices within the discipline.