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Reflection without Rules


  • 4 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 494 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.83 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 330/.01
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HB131 .H358 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Economics--Methodology
    • Science--Methodology

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521497152 | ISBN-10: 0521497159)

DOI: 10.2277/0521497159

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 14:41 GMT, 13 October 2015)


Reflection without Rules offers a comprehensive, pointed exploration of the methodological tradition in economics and the breakdown of the received view within the philosophy of science. Professor Hands investigates economists' use of naturalistic and sociological paradigms to model economic phenomena and assesses the roles of pragmatism, discourse, and situatedness in discussions of economic practice before turning to a systematic exploration of more recent developments in economic methodology. The treatment emphasizes the changes taking place in science theory and its relationship to the movement away from a rules-based view of economic methodology. The work will be of interest to all economists concerned with methodological issues as well as philosophers and others studying the relationships between economics and contemporary science theory.

• Surveys the relationship of economic methodology to the philosophy of science • Treatment is accessible, frank, and comprehensive • Ideally should succeed Mark Blaug's two books as the Press title on economic methodology


1. Introduction; 2. The methodological tradition in economics; 3. The breakdown of the received view within the philosophy of science; 4. The naturalistic turn; 5. The sociological turn; 6. Pragmatism, discourse, and situatedness; 7. Recent developments in economic methodology; 8. The economic turn; 9. Conclusion.


' … a story well-told, highly informative and full of interesting material. Reflections without Rules will remain for many years the main reference for those who want to get acquainted with economic methodology, and a most useful point of entry in this literature.' History of Economic Ideas

'This survey is, indeed, impressive. And certainly the book does have real value as a reference work in which generally clear and reliable summaries of ideas from science studies and from philosophy of economics can be found … there is an important project being promoted, and it is a project with considerable merit.' John Dupré, University of Exeter

'… wide-ranging, thorough and highly readable stocktaking of different eras and areas of the subject - beginning with the history of the methodology of economics (Mill and Positivism) and the breakdown of the Received View in the philosophy of science (Logical Positivism, Logical Empiricism and Popperian Falsificationism), moving on through Naturalism, the Sociological turn and Pragmatism, and closing with overviews of recent developments in the methodology literature and the Economics of Science … it is one of the best in the area to have appeared in a long time and one I shall be returning to for many years to come.' Jochen Runde, University of Cambridge

'I wish this book had been available to me back when I was in graduate school struggling to learn about economic methodological issues without a formal guide or class. Hands provides a very useful starting point for inquiry into a dauntingly complex area, and he summarizes important debates of great interest to economists. Reflections without rules is virtually a course in a book.' Diana Strassmann, Rice University

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