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A Modern Reader in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics

Key Concepts

Edited by Geoffrey M. Hodgson

In the 1990s, institutional and evolutionary economics emerged as one of the most creative and successful approaches in the modern social sciences. This timely reader gathers together seminal contributions from leading international authors in the field of institutional and evolutionary economics including Eileen Appelbaum, Benjamin Coriat, Giovanni Dosi, Sheila C. Dow, Bengt-Åke Lundvall, Uskali Mäki, Bart Nooteboom and Marc R. Tool. The emphasis is on key concepts such as learning, trust, power, pricing and markets, with some essays devoted to methodology and others to the comparison of different forms of capitalism. An extensive introduction places the contributions in the context of the historical and theoretical background of
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Chapter 7: The one world and the many theories

Uskali Mäki


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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