The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Paradigms

  • Peter Urbach
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_1538

Abstract

The idea of a paradigm, in the sense of a dominating principle governing a whole area of scientific research, was invented by Thomas Kuhn (1962), a historian and philosopher of science. One of his starting points was Karl Popper’s view of science, according to which the best scientific theories are falsifiable, viz., such theories could, at least in principle, be refuted by empirical evidence. Popper has argued that theories such as those of Freud and Marx, and the central assumptions of astrology, were unfalsifiable, and that in consequence they were inferior to Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, for example. Kuhn, however, pointed out the already well-known fact that the leading theories of the physical sciences are not straightforwardly falsifiable. On the contrary, a theory such as Newton’s typically requires auxiliary assumptions before it can make any empirical predictions. If such predictions turn out to be false, then logic alone does not determine whether the main theory or one or more of the auxiliaries is at fault, and a person is then at liberty to retain the central theory and to reject one or more auxiliary.

Keywords

Falsificationism Kuhn, T. S. Marginalist economics Paradigm Popper, K. Subjective theory of value 

JEL Classifications

B4 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Urbach
    • 1
  1. 1.