Essays In Positive Economics

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As a result, after Newton, any other interpretation of Galileo’s law would be viewed as pure nonsense by any educated person other than those who wished to cling desperately to the cosmology implicit in the Ptolemaic view of the universe and who were unwilling or unable, for whatever reason, to accept a heliocentric view of reality.

It is essential to understand, however, that the Newtonian understanding of this law was of a space-time continuum as embodied in Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The fact is that Galileo accepted his understanding of this law, not simply because it works, but because his understanding of this law is the physical universe.

Newton’s cosmology made it possible to understand and explain astronomical observations with a degree of accuracy that was heretofore impossible.

18-9)] Now it seemed quite clear to me back in 1967, and it still seems quite clear to me today, that it is the purview of engineering, not science, to catalog the circumstances under which a theory works and does not work and to estimates the errors in the predictions of theories along with the cost involved in using one approach or another.

The purview of science, as I saw it then and still see it today, is to the subject matter of a scientific discipline.Such is the power of Friedman’s methodology within the discipline of economics. If physical scientists had taken this approach to science throughout the course of history—relying on “folklore” and “the tenacity with which hypotheses are held” and on those who have been exposed to “the ‘right’ scientific atmosphere” as they ignored the realism of assumptions—we would still be living in a Ptolemaic universe cataloging the situations in which Aristotle’s assumptions do and do not work. which distinguishes the ‘crackpot’ from the scientist.” That line is not thin.The Ideological Nature of Friedman’s Logic Even more problematic is Friedman’s attempt to give substance to his engineering view of science by arguing that after all of the situations in which hypotheses work and do not work have been cataloged within a discipline, , the scientist should look to “the tradition and folklore of a science revealed in the tenacity with which hypotheses are held” to find the truth. Friedman is quite wrong in his assertion that there is a “thin line . It is the clear, bright line that exists between those who accept arguments based on circular reasoning and false assumptions as meaningful and those who do not.Today we find ourselves in the midst of a world-wide economic, political, and social catastrophe that has followed in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. only by experience and exposure in the ‘right’ scientific atmosphere” we must look to the wise men and women of the discipline who have been exposed to “the ‘right’ scientific atmosphere” to find where “the thin line is drawn which distinguishes the ‘crackpot’ from the scientist.” [Friedman (pp.This crisis, in turn, was the direct result of the financial deregulation policies implemented over the past forty years at the behest of mainstream economists—policies that mainstream economists justified on the basis of an economic theory that speculative bubbles cannot exist in spite of the innumerable economic, political, and social catastrophes that have followed in the wake of speculative bubbles throughout the course of history.[5] And yet, mainstream economists are at a loss in trying to come to a consensus as to what went wrong. is something that cannot be taught [and] can be learned . 22-3, 25)] This may seem to make sense to an engineer who wishes to learn the current state of the art of bridge building, or to an ideologue who wishes to provide a logical foundation for his or her most cherished delusions irrespective of the circular reasoning and false assumptions upon which that logic is based, but this is not science!It is the form of a logical argument that makes it valid, irrespective of the truth of its premises.The argument a) all men with blue eyes are infallible, b) I have blue eyes, therefore, c) I am infallible is meaning, in spite of its logical validity and my blue eyes, because it is based on the demonstrably false premise that all men with blue eyes are infallible.It grew out of the work of Galileo in attempting to explain the anomalies in Aristotle’s theory of motion.According to Aristotle, a constant force applied to an object will cause it to move at a constant velocity, the greater the force the greater the velocity.At this point it should at least be apparent that Friedman’s assertion that the law of falling bodies “is accepted because it works” is not nearly as clear cut as Friedman tries to make it seem.Friedman, himself, expounded on but a few of the innumerable situations in which this law, , does not work, and, in fact, there are relatively few practical applications for Friedman’s statement of this law other than as a basis on which high-school physics students can construct lab experiments.


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