The Deductive/Empirical Split

A few days ago I made a comment on a big time blog site about the fact that economics is divided between the deductive schools and the empirical schools. That remark drew record traffic to my blog.

Now I see that Virginia Postrel is proposing a similar division among libertarian philosophies. Notably , she divides the libertarian intellectual traditions based on economists (Rothbard vs Hayek and Friedman). My favorite quote:

For decades, the deductive tradition has defined libertarian identity and dogma, while the empiricist tradition has achieved libertarian goals.

It’s a very thoughtful essay. To my way of thinking, the relationship between these two traditions is like the relationship between mathematics and engineering. Mathematics may get you to ultimate truth, but it won’t get a bridge built in the imperfect world where we exist.

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One response to this post.

  1. But the notion that truth only comes from empirical observation is itself a deductive conclusion.

    Reply

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