July 19, 2012

The Social Construction of Theoretical Landscapes

Some Economics of Economic Theories
  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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Economic theory emerges through interaction among interested participants, with the content of those theories being a product of spontaneous ordering and not scientific planning. At any moment, it is reasonable to expect various theoretical formulations to be in play, some typically receiving greater attention than others. As with spontaneous orders in general, the institutional arrangements within which theorizing occurs is influential though not determinative over the characteristics of theories. In this respect, a distinction is made between theories directed at understanding social processes as open and creative and theories directed at controlling what are treated as closed and deterministic processes. This distinction is illustrated with respect to theorizing about macro phenomena and public phenomena.

Find the working paper at SSRN.com.