Edited by John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands
Chapter 9: Economics as Usual: Geographical Economics Shaped by Disciplinary Conventions
9 Economics as usual: geographical economics shaped by disciplinary conventions Uskali Mäki and Caterina Marchionni1 9.1 INTRODUCTION Is economics a proper science at all? Or if it qualifies as a science, does it underperform, does it fail to fulfil its scientific duties? Does it perhaps just pretend to proceed as a science by applying principles and techniques that are not suitable for addressing its proper subject matter and for meeting the legitimate expectations? There is a long and live tradition of economics-bashing and economics apology in posing and answering such questions. One popular current in this tradition is to blame economics for being theory-driven or method-driven or driven by whatever else but the world or empirical evidence or observation. Economics thus does not care about the real world – indeed, being so deeply shaped by its favourite theories and methods disconnects economics from the world. The alternative to this gloomy scenario is for a discipline to be evidence-driven or worldoriented or to be guided by some such proper scientific ethos. Being theory-driven involves stressing scientific virtues such as simplicity, coherence, convenience, tractability, formal rigor, theoretical elegance, and so on. Being observation-driven or world-oriented means emphasizing the importance of truth, complexity, empirical testing, practical relevance, and so on. Sometimes the former is characterized as a deductive approach, in contrast to the latter inductive approach. Diagnosis of the failures of economics and advice for how to do better economics is often put in such dichotomous terms. This popular way of framing the...
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