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Pluralist Economics

Pluralist Economics

Peter Earl | Jeroen van Bouwel | Yanis Varoufakis | J. E. King | Mohamed Aslam Haneef | Thomas Mayer | David Colander | Harry Landreth | Geoffrey Hodgson | Christian Arnsperger | Robert F. Garnett | Alan Freeman | Christian Arnsperger | Peter Soderbaum | Kyle Siler | Andrew Kliman | Edward Fullbrook


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Book Details


This book is an authoritative and accessible guide to the pluralist movement threatening to revolutionise mainstream economics. Leading figures in the field explain why pluralism is a required virtue in economics, how it came to be blocked and what it means for the way we think about, research and teach economics. The first part of the book looks at how neoclassical economics gained its stranglehold, particularly in the United States, and how the social and intellectual underpinnings of economics have enabled it to maintain this in the face of inconsistent evidence from the real world. This is then contrasted with different approaches to pluralism. Pluralist Economics then goes on to address the array of arguments for establishing pluralism, showing how economics came to function as a concealed ideology and not as a science, and how value-free economics is an illusion. Finally, it addresses the practical problems presented by this different way of doing economics.
'Edward Fullbrook's exceptional volume aims to challenge and counter the cavalier way mainstream economists dismiss theories and perspectives other than their own as "nonscience". Pluralism is long overdue in economics, and this is the best single introduction to what it means for the way we think about and use economics in the real world.' David F. Ruccio, University of Notre Dame 'Edward Fullbrook has done it again, with an excellent and timely collection on an especially pertinent topic. This is an exceptionally insightful and thought-provoking book featuring work from significant contributors to modern heterodox economics.' Tony Lawson, University of Cambridge 'Edward Fullbrook and his coauthors present the case for an eclectic, diverse, tolerant and relevant alternative. They show with special clarity how pluralism actually works in other disciplines, notably physics, and the value of metaphor and narrative in making arguments in social science persuasive.' James K. Galbraith, University of Texas at Austin
Edward Fullbrook is the founder and editor of The Real World Economics Review (formerly the Post-Autistic Economics Review) and webmaster of He is a research fellow in the School of Economics at the University of the West of England. He is the author of Sex and Philosophy: Rethinking de Beauvoir and Sartre (2008).

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Notes on Contributors vii
Introduction 1
Rebellion 1
Pluralism and Philosophy 3
Pluralism and Physics 4
Pluralism and Economics 6
This Book 7
Note 10
References 10
PART I What Is Pluralism? 11
1 Neoclassical Economics: Three Identifying Features 13
The First Axiom of Neoclassical Economics: Methodological Individualism 14
The Second Axiom of Neoclassical Economics: Methodological Instrumentalism 16
The Third Axiom of Neoclassical Economics: Methodological Equilibration 18
Three Axioms, One Neoclassical Economics 19
Some Thoughts on Neoclassicism’s Discursive Power and its Aversion to Pluralism 21
Epilogue 24
Notes 25
References 25
2 Pluralism, Formalism and American Economics 26
The Swinging Pendulum 29
Why This History Is Important 29
The Players 30
The Victory of the Coalition of Formalists and Marshallians over the Institutionalists 31
The Institutional Cause of Institutionalists’ Demise 33
The Victory of Formalists over Marshallians 35
The Instability of Marshall’s Straddle 37
Some Final Comments and Some Thoughts about the Future 39
Notes 41
References 42
3 The Construction of Economics 44
Mutual Dependence 44
Economics and Task Uncertainty 46
Concluding Thoughts 49
Notes 50
References 50
4 Paradigms and Pluralism 51
Introduction 51
Radical Paradigmism 52
The Pluralist Turn 57
Emerging Objections to the Pluralist Turn 59
Which Way Forward? 61
Towards an Egalitarian Pluralist Economics 62
Towards a Better (and More Heterodox) Economics 70
Notes 73
References 75
PART II Arguments for Pluralism 81
5 Narrative Pluralism 83
Narrative Selection 84
The Narrative Pluralism of Twentieth-century Physics 97
Anti-knowledge 101
Summing Up 108
Note 109
References 109
6 Three Arguments for Pluralism 111
Note 115
References 115
7 Economics as Ideology 117
On the Meaning of Paradigm, Ideology, Pluralism and Democracy 118
The Ideology of Neoclassical Economics 121
Cost–benefit Analysis and Democracy as a Case 123
Table 7.1 Categories of approaches to decision-making 124
Conclusions and Recommendations for Education in Economics 125
References 127
8 Metaphor and Pluralism 128
The Limits to Reductionism 128
The Role of Metaphor 134
In Conclusion: Theoretical Pluralism 142
Notes 146
References 147
9 Explanatory Pluralism 151
Tony Lawson’s Criticisms of Mainstream Economics 151
Tony Lawson’s Alternative View on Ontology and Explanation 154
Scrutinizing Lawson’s Proposals on Ontology and Explanation 156
Are Lawson’s Proposals Pluralistic? 164
Conclusion: Some Open Questions about Pluralism 167
Notes 168
References 169
PART III Pluralist Practice in Economics 171
10 Beyond Talking the Talk 173
Critical Pluralism: An Introduction 173
Monotheoretic Heterodoxy: An Inadequate Informal Norm 175
Monotheoretic Practice and the Cult of the Economic Expert 177
Material Roots: The Practice of Economic Research 178
Ideological Roots: The Myth of the Evolutionary Selection of Ideas 181
Can Economics Reform Itself? 184
Notes 191
References 192
11 In the Economics Classroom 193
Perry’s Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Development 195
Consequences of Mismatches between Students’ and Lecturers’ Expectations 198
Phases of Development among Academic Economists, Too? 202
Strategies for Assisting Progression Towards Committed Relativism and Beyond 205
When and How to Bring Indeterminacy into the Economics Classroom 208
Conclusion 212
References 213
12 Some Practical Aspects 215
Policy 217
Theory 218
Methodology 219
Value Judgements 222
Individual or Collective Pluralism 224
Conclusion 225
Notes 226
References 226
13 Islamic Economics: A Case Study 228
Background of Course ECON 1710: Foundations of Islamic Economics (FIE) 229
Can There Be a Religion-based Economics? 237
Conclusion 240
Notes 240
References 241
Index 242