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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 8: Methodological pluralism and pluralism of method

Sheila C. Dow


Sheila C. Dow 1. INTRODUCTION Pluralism is the philosophical position that the ultimate reality of the universe consists of a plurality of entities; it is an ontological position. But the concept of pluralism can be applied at a variety of levels: to the (epistemological) understanding of reality (whether its ultimate nature is a plurality or not), to the methods employed to theorize about that understanding of reality, to the methodology which sets the criteria for theory choice, and to the study of methodologies themselves. Pluralism has been advocated at all of these levels in economics discourse. But an understanding of what is entailed by methodological pluralism and pluralism of method has been hampered by lack of reference to epistemological and ontological foundations. In particular, pluralism takes on a different meaning in a closed-system mode of thought (as in mainstream economics) from its meaning in an open-system mode of thought (as in Post Keynesian economics or institutional–evolutionary economics). The former can be thought of as ‘pure pluralism’, as the dual of a monist position, while the latter involves a more limited, although crucial, pluralism. It is the purpose of this chapter to attempt to distinguish pluralism at the different levels, and according to different ontological and epistemological positions, and to assess whether the validity of the pluralist position differs between these different levels. It is concluded that a pure pluralist position is untenable at any level, but that a modified methodological pluralism is to be welcomed if grounded in...

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