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« Cooperation over Coercion: The Importance of Unsupervised Childhood Play for Democracy and Liberalism | Main | Economics in the Rear-View Mirror »


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The fact that scientific critique has to be immanent and not exogenous seems like an implication of Hayek's theory of mind. To communicate ideas clearly there has to be some shared aspects within the employed mental framework, otherwise the structural validity of the new theories may not be accurately perceived.

In that sense any evolutionary leap in terms of scientific inquiry has to integrate new improvements with relevant strands from the past. Individuals working on completely divergent paradigms cannot simply find a common ground.

Also contention as a driving force is another Hayekian attribute. Competition as a discovery process is a theoretical insight valid at every structural levels of our order. Which includes mind, rules of conduct & capital structures.

It's the claims of science from social scientists that are the problem, not the "debunking" of them that is the problem. At some level, the scientific method does not care whether a critical analysis is civil or sophisticated or not - it simply cares whether it is correct or valid.

I also think it's disingenuous to ignore the effects of post modern and post structuralist thought on the nature of "motivations" and "truth". Many social scientists are out to "change" things as their primary goal. They are players in the game with real interests and they have an ideology which tells them to embrace their biases and abandon rationality (some call it engaging the superstructure of belief - no difference). This allows them to act solely on the basis of moving the needle for their "cause" which is often highly politicized to begin with.

In such a setting, questioning motives is justified as the humanities and social sciences have been highly politicized. Am I wrong?


I think as a matter of scientific principle -- our first efforts at engagement should always be from the perspective of the most charitable interpretation of our intellectual opponents. We all fall short of this ideal to this or that extent, but that is due to human frailties. Our goal should be to explore why we disagree with smart and informed debate partners who are honestly and sincerely seeking to discover truth. It is too cheap to assume otherwise in a debate and then to declare intellectual victory. Of course you are going to win the debate IF your opponent is cheating and is a dumb jokester. But what have we all learned in such an exercise.

The durability of Keynesian macro and the "consensus" in climate science suggest that the we need to be very alert to the power of the paradigm. Hence the need for constant attention to the "rules of the game" of science and the way they can be subverted in the modern age of Big Science and especially Big Science funded by Big Government.

I am not sure that Polanyi and Kuhn provided the ideas required to maintain the creative and crtical side of the "essential tension".

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