December 10, 2011
The World Economics Association on Pluralism
The World Economics Association recently published its first newsletter (here) dedicated to plurality.
A central theme that you will see emphasised throughout this newsletter is the issue of pluralism, the idea that there is more than one way to look at an issue. So why is pluralism important? …
The use of language to frame issues is important. Fairclough (1995) refers to “ideological-discursive formations” (IDFs) in which groups have their preferred terms. These serve to define debate in a way that supports their perspective. This may arise unintentionally, but the shift from “doctor and patient” to “service provider and consumer”, say, is still a redefinition of a relationship. If there is a dominant IDF whereby other alternatives are not heard, it can be seen as “reality”, “the truth”. Any alternatives that then arise may be labelled apocryphal or ideological. If there is poor communication across academic groups, as Kuhn suggests, then each group can, internally, see itself as owning the “truth” for its area. Implicitly, then, other groups’ perspectives are flawed or irrelevant.
This is not conducive to a pluralist approach. Perhaps we should all be saying that we are constructing artificial representations (analogies) of the real world. If we are not careful, we may believe that our models and theories do actually represent the real world. They don’t. They are simplifications and generalisations which, we hope, give us some insights into the real world. We need to be aware of the limitations of our perspectives and of the multitude of possible alternative perspectives which may be useful.
Sounds like Noam Chomsky.
It is much along the lines of the divide between Keynes and Hayek, as described in the recent highly readable book on their conflict by Nicholas Wapshott.
Which proves only that when the topic is economics there isn't a lot of solid evidence of anything other than disagreement.
Posted by: Arthur Armstrong | Dec 11, 2011 1:41:46 PM