By Gerd Hardack, Dieter Karras, Ben Fine

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Extra info for A Short History of Socialist Economic Thought

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13 It is with regard to this latter situation that the category of a tendency is primed. Because actual events or states of affairs may be co-determined by numerous, often countervailing, mechanisms the action of any one mechanism, though real and perhaps expressing necessity in nature, may not be directly manifest or ‘actualised’. Characteristic ways of acting or effects of mechanisms which may not be actualised because of the openness of the relevant system are conceptualised here as tendencies.

Even accepting the often noted incapacity of orthodox economics to explain or otherwise illuminate real world phenomena, surely it is impossible to lay the ‘blame’ for this at the door of any erroneously universalised set of methods or modes of analysis? Actually, I think it is possible. The main ‘culprit’, I shall argue, is a mode of explanation that can be referred to as deductivist, or, more particularly, it is the conception of ‘laws’ (or ‘significant results’ or ‘theoretical formulations’) upon which deductivist explanation ultimately depends.

To repeat, however, it represents a stipulation that economists are unable to live up to. And the point here is that the coincidence of a widespread acceptance of this stipulation in economics with an obvious inability to act consistently with it, is a further phenomenon that warrants some explanation, a situation which once more suggests an undesirable level of confusion and inconsistency in the contemporary economics discipline. In summary, contemporary economics is not in a fit state. Most obviously, it fares poorly on its own terms; it neither provides particularly accurate forecasts of events nor illuminates the world in which we live.

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