• THE ECLIPSE OF INSTITUTIONALISM? AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE FORMATION OF CONSENSUS AROUND NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMICS IN THE 1950s

      Solomon, Miriam; Wolfsdorf, David, 1969-; Diamantaras, Dimitrios; Lund, Matthew D. (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      As the discipline of economics professionalized during the interwar period, two schools of thought emerged: institutionalism and neoclassical economics. By 1954, after the publication of Arrow and Debreu’s landmark article on general equilibrium theory, consensus formed around neoclassical economics. This outcome was significantly influenced by trends in the philosophy of science, notably the transformation from the logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle to an ‘Americanized’ version of logical empiricism that was dominant through the 1950s. This version of logical empiricism provided a powerful ally to neoclassical economics by affirming its philosophical and methodological commitments as examples of “good science”. This dissertation explores this process of consensus formation by considering whether consensus would be judged normatively appropriate from the perspective of three distinct approaches to the philosophy of science; Carl Hempel’s logical empiricism, Thomas Kuhn’s account of theory change and Helen Longino’s critical contextual empiricism. The conclusion is that there is no ‘consensus on consensus’. Longino’s approach reveals the ways in which alignments between mid-century philosophy of science and neoclassical economics mask the normative commitments implicit in both disciplines. Moreover, Longino’s alternative set of theoretical virtues reveal how questioning the standards of “good science” yields very different conclusions about both the scientific credentials and viability of institutional economics. My conclusion is that a pluralistic approach to the philosophy of science is essential to fully understanding the case study of mid-century economics.