Conference Proceeding

Pluralist economics: is it scientific?



Dow S (2018) Pluralist economics: is it scientific?. In: Decker S, Elsner W & Flechtner S (eds.) Advancing Pluralism in Teaching Economics: international perspectives on a textbook science. Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics, 39. Teaching Economics in the 21st Century, Berlin, Germany, 26.11.2015-28.11.2015. London: Routledge, pp. 13-30.

The aim of this chapter is to set the scene for a discussion of teaching from a pluralist perspective by considering how we produce, and convey, reliable knowledge in economics. Using Kuhn’s framework as a basis for considering different understandings of what constitutes reliable knowledge (propagated through teaching), we focus on the different understandings within mainstream economics and within non-mainstream paradigms. Keynes’s epistemology (as developed in A Treatise on Probability) is then explored as a basis for a pluralist approach to economic knowledge. The mainstream critique of alternative approaches to knowledge, interpreted as ‘anything goes’, is addressed and the argument developed that a pluralist approach generates more reliable knowledge than the monist mainstream approach. This analysis leads to a set of positive and negative heuristics as a guide for pluralist economists as researchers. Some implications are then drawn for pluralist teaching of economics. It is argued that such teaching should include teaching by debates, drawing on history of thought and methodology.

Title of seriesRoutledge Advances in Heterodox Economics
Number in series39
Publication date23/08/2018
Publisher URL…ok/9781138037625
Place of publicationLondon
ConferenceTeaching Economics in the 21st Century
Conference locationBerlin, Germany

People (1)


Professor Sheila Dow

Professor Sheila Dow

Emeritus Professor, Economics