Causal Generalisations in Policy-oriented Economic Research: An Inferentialist Analysis
Claveau, François and Luis Mireles-Flores (2016), Causal Generalisations in Policy-oriented Economic Research: An Inferentialist Analysis, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (4): 383-398.
The most common way of analysing the meaning of causal generalisations relies on referentialist semantics. In this article, we instead develop an analysis based on inferentialist semantics. According to this approach, the meaning of a causal generalisation is constituted by the web of inferential connections in which the generalisation participates. We distinguish and discuss five classes of inferential connections that constitute the meaning of causal generalisations produced in policy-oriented economic research. The usefulness of our account is illustrated with the analysis of generalisations about unemployment putforward by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in its highly influential 1994 OECD Jobs Study. The article ends with a discussion of some crucial philosophical questions about the use of inferentialism in the analysis of causal generalisations.
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