TestingMarxism (ThoughtStorms)

Prompted by : http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hall/2099/pottedpopper.html

Q : Phil, I still don't understand how you can be a radical socialist and a Popperian CriticalRationalist?

A : Well I am not a Marxist. But how might I make a serious and sympathetic interpretation of the scientific status of someone like Marx? Basically I see Marxism as a world-view, incorporating certain very broad conjectures, which is capable of generating a family of scientific hypotheses. Of course, the majority of those hypotheses are false, falsifiable, and falsified. But there are some which are falsifiable but yet to be falsified. Economic observation is always fraught with interference from other social factors.

Of course, the degree to which you can invent epicycles to protect a theory is a pragmatic choice. But one you should resist as far as possible. But economic observations are always in doubt, and based on triangulations from many different data-points.

So basically you can see two schools or HypothesisFactories : EconomicLiberalism and Marxism.

Economic liberalism is a factory for generating hypotheses who's general import is that FreeMarkets create greater, more evenly distributed prosperity and stability.

Marxism is a factory for generating hypotheses who's general import is that FreeMarkets create greater inequality and social instability.

Can you falsify Marxism or Economic Liberalism? Maybe not, so these are not scientific. But can you falsify the theories which come out of them? To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the particular hypothesis.

There remains a problem of how badly the issuing of wrong hypotheses reflects on the factory. My suspicion is not at all. The bias towards Marxism or EconomicLiberalism isn't falsifiable. Nor is it a scientific theory. Nor is it an intellectual failing to have one bias or another. (In fact, maybe assuming that individual hypothesis ought to discredit a factory is a kind of induction : fifty Marxist inspired hypotheses were wrong so the next is more likely to be, too.)

For this reason, people with each bias (and yet others) can and should work together (through argument) on the collaborative quest for knowledge.

OTOH, I think other things might reflect back on HypothesisFactories. A bias towards selfish or generous hypotheses can be an indicator of the MoralCharacter of the person or community coming up with the hypothesis. But this doesn't mean we shouldn't fairly consider those hypotheses or that they might not be true.


Compare my discussion of scientist's responsibilities on Tribe : http://www.tribe.net/tribe/servlet/template/pub%2Ctribes%2CViewThread.vm?threadid=1f5f7355-5c35-49db-9213-7f8deaf4f776&tribeid=95ebf03c-7c38-45fb-903a-154988349673


See also HackerSocialists, DemarcatingScience, OnMarkets, KarlPopper, Optimaes