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Title: Empirical testing and theory validation : a structural explanation of persistent controversy in positive economics
Author: Arouh, A. A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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Choosing between alternative economic theories has been a difficult task throughout the history of economic thought. An attempt is made in this thesis to offer an explanation of persistent conflict within Positive economics. In the first part, the validational procedure in Positive economics is examined, and the place of the F-Twist controversy within it is described. In an effort to define terms used in this controversy, an ambiguity is found that permeates the structure of terms such as, assumptions, fundamental postulates, etc. In examining the criterion of objectivity in Positive economics, namely empirical testing, more ambiguities are found stemming from the irresolution of the Problem of Induction. These ambiguities are related to the positivist distinction between theory and fact and to the elusive justification of inductive inference. Finally, the reliability and objectivity of empirical evidence is put in question. In the second part, the Monetary controversy is outlined. Initially the scene is set by accounting for the development of the controversy within the context of the policy developments during the post-war period. Then, the theoretical framework of the controversy is delineated and it is found that Monetarists and Fiscalists belong to the same theoretical framework differing only in the emphases they put within it. Finally, the empirical evidence by either side is examined and the conclusion is reached that it has proved indecisive for choosing between Monetarism and Fiscalism. In the last part, critiques of Positive economics are reviewed, and various explanations of conflict in economics are discussed. It is found that in most of these explanations, causal relations are looked for, which attribute conflict to isolated factors stemming from the defects of economics. An alternative account of conflict in economics is propounded in which the logical 'matrix' behind persistent controversy is put forward. In this account a diagram is drawn structurally tracing and logically connecting opposing tendencies in Positive economics. Along with the logical structure a historical framework is also given within which the connecting relations are realized. The argument is put forth that, as far as the F-Twist and Monetary controversies are concerned, conflict in Positive economics cannot be resolved by empirical testing, due to structured ambiguities and contradictions in it.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available