Naturalism in the social sciences: The case of veblenian evolutionary and institutional economics

Based on master thesis in economic geography, University of Oslo (1994): Selv-organisering: et evolusjonært perspektiv på relasjoner mellom læring og kontekst. (Self-organisation: an evolutionary approach to relations between learning and context).

The present condition of creative development of knowledge inside traditional economics is criticised by, among others, Tony Lawson, who argues that 

«the methods and techniques that prevail in economics are usually inadequate, and that they are preserved because they are believed to have been successful in certain spheres of natural science» (Lawson 1994c: 19). 

This is the reason for searching for and establishing an alternative perspective. Critical realism, which contains ontological, epistemological and methodological implications, does not legitimate any specific, substantial theories. What it does is to legitimize generally that the goal of economic science is to understand and to identify given, and the evolution of new structures, mechanisms or social practices that direct economic phenomena and activities. Moreover, the explanation of the concrete manifestation of these phenomena occupies a central place. In the latter years there have been several arguments for combining critical realism with modern institutional and evolutionary economics (Caldwell 1992, 1993, Foster 1993, 1994b, Hodgson 1988, 1993, C. Lawson 1994, T. Lawson 1989, 1993, 1994a, b, c).

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