Has populism reached economics? Two criteria for assessing normative empirical concepts in economics

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Abstract

This paper attempts to understand why we generally feel that some normative empirical concepts in economics are unproblematic whereas others feel uncomfortable or misleading. I develop criteria to distinguish between the two on the basis of two notions from the philosophy of science: positional objectivity and thick concepts. I operationalize these with the help of two recent guidelines on good scientific practice that have been developed in debates around scientific integrity. This leads to two criteria: unavoidability and global evaluation. Following this discussion, the paper will present a case study on "ethnic fractionalization", popular in empirical research on the social determinants of economic growth. Throughout the paper I will make use of examples of other normative empirical concepts to further the understanding of the various ways in which such concepts violate the criteria that I have suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series
Volume631

Bibliographical note

hdl.handle.net/1765/99326

Research programs

  • EUR-ISS-EDEM
  • EUR-ISS-SGIII

Series

  • ISS Working Paper-General Series

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