Classical and neo-classical economics, as dominant today, has used
the deductive methodology: Untested axioms and unrealistic assumptions
are the basis for the formulation of theoretical dream worlds that
are used to present particular ‘results’. As discussed in Werner (2005),
this methodology is particularly suited to deriving and justifying
preconceived ideas and conclusions, through a process ofworking backwards
fromthe desired ‘conclusions’, to establish the kind ofmodel that
can deliver them, and then formulating the kind of framework that
could justify this model by choosing suitable assumptions and ‘axioms’.
In other words, the deductive methodology is uniquely suited for manipulation
by being based on axioms and assumptions that can be picked
at will in order to obtain pre-determined desired outcomes and
justify favoured policy recommendations. It can be said that the deductive
methodology is useful for producing arguments thatmay give a scientific
appearance, but are merely presenting a pre-determined opinion.
The essential point here is that while the post-Humean, constant-conjunction, view of science entails the goal of control along with the amelioration of events and states of affairs, the transcendental realist perspective offers instead the goal of human emancipation. For while on the former account the point is (if and where possible) to fix certain event(s) x in order to determine or control other event(s) y, on the transcendental realist understanding the aim must (or at least can) be to transform structures in order to enhance the scope for realising human potential, to broaden opportunities. Social structures as conceived here do not determine what happens. They do though make a difference by constraining and (thereby) enabling. Now if in this aspect they are no different to natural structures or mechanisms, they are so in that social structures, unlike most natural mechanisms, can be not only utilised but also transformed. On this account economic policy can substitute for the traditional objective of controlling the future, one of replacing unwanted, unneeded and overly restrictive structures by those that are wanted, needed and empowering.