Productive Knowledge

Productive KnowledgePublic Policy

Shorter Simplified version

Keynes thought it would be ‘splendid’ if economists became more like dentists. Disciplinary economics
has instead become more like physics in focusing on concise, universal propositions verified
through decisive tests. This focus, I argue, limits the practical utility of the discipline because universal
propositions form only a part of new policy recipes. I further suggest that, as in engineering and
medicine, developing economic recipes requires eclectic combinations of suggestive tests and
judgement. Additionally, I offer a detailed example of how a simulation model can help evaluate
new policy combinations that affect the screening of loan applications.

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Productive Knowledge

Productive Knowledge and the Social Sciences — Some Pragmatic Ruminations

The most that ‘scientific consensus’ can realistically expect is some kind of ‘abductive’ generalization: the “best” explanation for the widest possible phenomena. And I’m skeptical that without intellectual bullying such a consensus is possible…. The alternative ‘pragmatic’ enterprise (in the William James sense) looks for whats useful rather than what’s universally true. …social scientists have something to bring to the pragmatist’s table: more suggestive tools and heuristics for their selection and use. It would be a pity if this were lost in a dogmatic striving for the “best” model and approach

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