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Naturalism in economics

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Economic Issues
DatePublished - Sep 1995
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)761-780
Original languageEnglish


Economic methodology has mostly adhered to naturalism, whereby the social sciences are akin to natural sciences and adopt the same positivistic methods. Anti-naturalism, by contrast, asserts that the social sciences are different from natural sciences and need to develop their own methods centred on interpretation and understanding. The present paper draws from scientific realism to argue for an intermediate stance that overcomes the naturalism/anti naturalism dichotomy. In a ‘critical naturalism’ there is a single complex reality to be studied but one which accommodates the distinctive features of social studies, including economics.

    Research areas

  • economic methodology, naturalism, anti-naturalism, complexity, interpretative methods, scientific realism

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