Pluralism of Determinisms: Economic Theory and Development in Malaysia, 1981 - 1996
Nijmegen : Economie
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Economische theorie en economisch beleid
SubjectWorking paper; Nijmegen Centre for Economics
This will paper will address pluralism in economics by discussing the concept of development as it developed in the debate in Malaysia between 1981 and 1996. It is argued that the conceptualization of development—as of any social phenomenon—is not only a theoretical, but simultaneously an epistemological and even ontological process, making pluralist positions such as taken by Mäki (2002) or Dow (2002) untenable. Whereas it might be possible to develop neat delineations of ontology and epistemology within methodological discussions, such distinctions do not uphold in the praxis of social research. Knowledge of social reality is always at the same time constitutive of that reality. From this analysis follows that theoretical positions are politicallyladen. Any methodological position is therefore an ethico-political one and should be evaluated as such, rather than on basis of the one and only Truth. In this respect, it should be recognised that any mode of knowing always at the same time is constructive by constituting a particular reality, and destructive, in suppressing other potential realities (as has been noted by the likes of Giddens and Foucault). On basis of this duality, we argue for a pluralism in the true sense of the word; a pluralism aiming at the cultivation of a plurality of truths, not a destruction of all truths. In terms of the Malaysian debate, we advocate a competition of notions of development rather than succumbing to either powerless relativism or authoritarian monopolisation of truth.
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