Methodology: A Comment on Frazer and Boland, II
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In a recent issue of "The American Economic Review (1983), William Frazer and Lawrence Boland present Milton Friedman's methodology as instrumentalism. The purpose of article is not to question Frazer and Boland's interpretation of Friedman; rather it is to question their accompanying assertion that instrumentalism is a sound methodology for short-run, practical policy purposes. According to Frazer and Boland, Friedman's essay calls "attention to the great relevance of positive economics for normative economics. The question was which policy should be selected. The promise of instrumentalism to Frazer and Boland is that it provides an effective method for answering this question. It does so by dissolving or ignoring the problem of induction and is as a method free from logical errors. Boland uses conventionalist criteria (for Friedman simplicity and fruitfulness) to select a theory to use for a particular occasion. This theory is free from logical error. It is alogical; the first two steps ensure that logic is barely relevant to it.