Economists are notorious for disagreeing amongst themselves, and labour economists are no less fractious than the rest. The controversies involve much more than straightforward differences over matters of fact which can in principle — if not always in practice — be settled by careful observation and painstaking empirical research. When schools of thought come into conflict with each other in economics, much broader issues are, almost inevitably, involved. What is at stake, in the most serious arguments among economists, is precisely what is to count as a (scientifically relevant) fact, how such facts are to be interpreted, and what generalisations can be made from them. Not just theory but also methodology is in dispute. This is why economic arguments are often so difficult to resolve (King, 1988, ch. 1; Woodbury, 1979).
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