Economic science and scientific explanation models

Vol. 30 No. 1 (2010)

jan-Mar / 2010
Published January 1, 2010
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Paulani, Leda Maria. 2010. “Economic Science and Scientific Explanation Models”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 30 (1):27-44.

Economic science and scientific explanation models

Leda Maria Paulani
Professora titular do Departamento de Economia e do Programa de Pós-graduação em Economia da FEA/USP.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 30 No. 1 (2010), jan-Mar / 2010, Pages 27-44


 Economics was born under the sign of methodological vagueness. The first author who tried to solve the question (John Stuart Mill) asserted that it is a kind of knowledge that uses the abstract (direct deductive) method but also that it is an exception because for all other phenomena in the field of moral science the correct method is the inverse deductive or historical method. On the other side, functionalist explanations that are condemned by the scientific precepts of economics are present in the science since its beginning with Adam Smith. Economics went ahead without worriment about these methodological issues but this indefiniteness has never gone off stage. Since the start of XXI century new facts are emerging. Developments in Psychology are giving a new breath to Friedman’s point of view and seem to fortify the mainstream (Rogebert e Nordberg, 2005), whereas unfolding in complexity science promises to throw it down and put in its place another kind of explanation borrowed from Biology (Beinhocker, 2006). All this stimulates to retake the question. We do this here, under a critical vision, taking the taxonomy of scientific explanations framed by modern positivism.

JEL Classification: B14; B40; B41.

Keywords: economics scientific explanations models deductive model induction ideology