The Question of a Priori Knowledge in the Social Sciences : The Points of View of Simiand, Mises, and Simmel

Abstract Contemporary social sciences have abandoned the quest for true, non-relativistic, a priori knowledge. On the one hand, quantitative methods and methodological positivism have by and large rejected that this type of knowledge is possible. On the other hand, qualitative methods and hermeneutical approaches, when they do not explicitly seek to obtain a posteriori knowledge, are generally characterized by … Continue reading The Question of a Priori Knowledge in the Social Sciences : The Points of View of Simiand, Mises, and Simmel

L’hystérésis du taux de chômage : une analyse épistémologique

Since the beginning of the 1980’s, the hypothesis of hysteresis of the unemployment rate has met a great success. However, what this hypothesis means is not very clear. After having distinguished hysteresis and persistence, we propose an interpretation of the use of this physician’s term in economics. This project requires, on the one hand, to give up the popperian prohibition to study, from an epistemological point of view, the context of discovering ; it implies, on the other hand, to focus attention on the a priori of the economic discourse. We associate the importation of the hysteresis term with the recognition by the mainstream of a presupposion which has for a long time remained characteristic of the heterodox thought: the historical dependance of equilibrium.

Mathematics as a tool or as a diagnostic: Reconstruction of a silent debate between Walras and Pareto

This article suggests a new argument for the de-homogenization of Walras’ and Pareto’s contributions, showing that even the common analytical instrument used for the mathematical representation of general equilibrium does not have the same status. Both consider mathematics as relevant in economics, but their epistemological interpretation of it is different, and sometimes even contradictory. The paper shows that mathematics are linked to a form of determinism in Walras, whereas they are a tool to promote individual freedom in Pareto. This opposition is then connected to the opposition between mathematics as a language of nature (in Walras) and mathematics as a tool for science (in Pareto).

Sustainable finance – which utopia?

This article stems from the contradictions that may be observed between the current demand for sustainability and the current functioning of our financial system. Beginning with a discussion of the epistemological assumptions underlying financial theory, it seeks to reveal the ways in which it may be viewed as an Ideology supporting the financialization of economies and societies. In order to counterbalance this ideology, we use the Ricœurian notion of the cultural imaginary to develop a Utopia, which is referred to as Finance as a Common. The reflexivity enabled by this Utopia reveals the mental structures in which financial actors are embedded, while opening up possible pathways for the reconstruction of the financial system and the renewal of financial knowledge.