An Exploratory Essay
New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 1: Contrasting Architectonics for a Theory of Public Finance
1. Contrasting architectonics for a theory of public ﬁnance Philosophers of science have occupied the foreground in reminding us that the sense we make of our observations about reality is conditioned by the mental frameworks or maps we use to organize those observations. This is an important point that bears heavily upon the selection of an architectonic framework for a theory of public ﬁnance. We are all necessarily captives of the mental maps we employ in making sense of our observations. There is nothing wrong with this, for there is no way to avoid this situation. Those maps can focus our observations on important matters and help us to avoid what is insigniﬁcant. They can also keep us from understanding accurately or clearly our chosen object of examination. For millennia people thought that the sun rose in the east and set in the west. This expression arose as part of a mental map that placed the earth at the center of the universe. Astronomers mapped the heavens to reconcile their observations of the heavenly bodies in terms of this Ptolemaic mental map. Then came Copernicus with his alternative mental map where the earth revolved around the sun, and we came subsequently to understand diﬀerently our observations of the heavenly bodies. While we still speak of the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, we now know that we are speaking ﬁguratively and not literally. In the Preface to his epochal General Theory of Employment, Interest,...
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