Slaves of the defunct: the epistemic intractability of the Hayek–Keynes debate

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The present essay addresses the epistemic difficulties involved in achieving consensus with respect to the Hayek–Keynes debate. It is argued that the empirical implications of the relevant theories are such that, regardless of what is observed, both theories can be interpreted as true, or at least, as not falsified. The essay explicates the respects in which the empirical evidence underdetermines the choice between the relevant theories. In particular, it is argued both that there are convenient responses that protect each theory from what appears to be threatening evidence and that, for particular kinds of evidence, the two theories are empirically equivalent. Larry Laudan's suggestion that ampliative methodological criteria can resolve an underdetermined choice between multiple scientific theories is considered and rejected as a possible means to rational consensus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-234
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Economic Methodology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015


  • Hayek
  • Keynes
  • business cycle theory
  • macroeconomics
  • methodology
  • underdetermination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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