The Almost-Convergence of Mises, Parsons, and Popper

4 December 2008 at 12:16 pm Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

O&M dabbles in economics, sociology, and the history and methodology of science so Rafe Champion’s new paper, “Mises, Parsons, and Popper: Comparison and Contrast of Praxeology, the Action Frame of Reference, and Situational Analysis,” may be of interest. Here’s the abstract:

During the 1930s three lines of thought converged on a common model of explanation in economics and the human sciences. Working in Europe, Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian school developed what he called “praxeology” to explore the sciences of human action. In the United States, Talcott Parsons, under the influence of Marshall, Pareto, Durkheim and Weber, offered the “action frame of reference” and in Australasia (in exile from Austria) Karl Popper elaborated “situational analysis”. Common features of the three models are methodological individualism, rejection of instrumentalism in favour of the search for real explanatory theories, and the use of a rationality principle to link the ends and means of action. General acceptance of the common features of these models would have significantly altered the criteria for theory development and appraisal in economics and the other social sciences. In the event, the three lines of thought did not merge to create a critical mass that might have made a difference in the scientific community at large. Their potential synergy has yet to be explored and there is scope for a  synthesis of their most robust features with some modifications to each, especially to correct the views of Mises and Parsons on the methods that are effective in the natural sciences. A strange feature of the situation is that the three principals and their followers have, up to date, almost completely refrained from public comment or discussion of the work of the other two parties.

Comments are welcome here or at Rafe’s site.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Austrian Economics, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, People.

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