Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes
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Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes

Edited by Marcel Boumans and Matthias Klaes

This collection of eminent contributions discusses the ideas and works of Mark Blaug, who has made important and often pioneering contributions to economic history, economic methodology, the economics of education, development economics, cultural economics, economic theory and the history of economic thought. Besides these assessments of Blaug’s influence and impact in these fields, this volume also contains a selection of personal portraits which depict him as a colleague, a friend and an opponent. Blaug was also a voracious reader and prolific writer, which is clearly evidenced by the comprehensive bibliography.
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Chapter 17: GP08 is the New F53: Gul and Pesendorfer’s Methodological Essay from the Viewpoint of Blaug’s Popperian Methodology

D Wade Hands


It would be foolhardy to tell fellow economists how to amend mainstream economics to take account of choice anomalies or even to abandon standard microeconomics in favor of one of the dissenting brands of economics … However, what is clear is that the direct investigation of rational action, the attempt to test the urgency of the assumption of rationality, should not be dismissed out of hand. (Blaug 1992, p._233) Mark Blaug was not only a methodologist; he was also a critical commentator on current methodological debates, and right now Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer’s paper ‘The Case for Mindless Economics’ (hereafter GP08) is the most debated methodological paper among practicing economists. It was widely circulated prior to publication and the volume it was published in (Caplin and Schotter 2008) was entirely dedicated to the essay; GP08 was chapter one, followed by 14 chapters of commentary. For the younger generation of economists GP08 may now have replaced Milton Friedman’s 1953 classic ‘The Methodology of Positive Economics’ (hereafter F531) as the ‘only essay on methodology that a large number, perhaps a majority, of economists have ever read’ (Hausman 1992, p._162). Notice I say the popularity is ‘among practicing economists’. Unlike when F53 was published, there is now an active community of scholars working in the field of economic methodology and GP08 has not received the attention from this community that one would expect. Similarly, those who have written on GP08 have revealed very little interest in the literature produced by the methodological community.

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