Edited by Geoffrey M. Hodgson
Chapter 7: The one world and the many theories
Uskali Mäki 1. INTRODUCTION ‘Pluralism’ has become a popular label among those who are not entirely comfortable with what they see as the prevailing situation in economics. As is so typical of many other similar labels, it is not at all clear what is behind it. It is not clear what people mean when they say they advocate pluralism in economics. Not only is it seldom recognized that pluralism proper comes in different kinds and different degrees, it is also easily conﬂated with the simpler notion of plurality. The following remarks are intended to provide a sketch of two endeavours: ﬁrst, a partial clariﬁcation of the very concept of pluralism; second, a defence of pluralism about theories. My title hints at a principle – let us call it the ‘one world principle’ – which I take as imposing a constraint upon the sorts of pluralisms I am willing to espouse. Provided there is only one world – or only one way the world is – pluralism about the world is not acceptable. On the other hand, the actually and potentially obtaining plurality of theories – also referred to in my title – can be justiﬁed, hence pluralism about theories is acceptable. This chapter is an attempt to outline a systematic justiﬁcation for theoretical plurality in economics without succumbing to ontological pluralism. 2. PLURALITIES AND PLURALISMS When considering the issue of pluralism, the proper place to begin is the more primitive notion of plurality, since the notion of pluralism presupposes that of...
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