Home > Teoria > Sobre Ontologia e Realismo Crítico na Economia

Sobre Ontologia e Realismo Crítico na Economia

Tony Lawson é filósofo, matemático e economista do departamento de economia da Universidade de Cambridge. Sempre duvidoso do método e dos modelos comumente utilizados por seus colegas, Lawson decidiu por dedicar-se ao estudo da ontologia, isto é, da natureza e da estrutura da realidade, e aventurou-se pelos caminhos do realismo crítico, que em sua opinião é a vertente mais consciente de si da ontologia:

“my primary concern is ontology, a form of study, not any set of results. Critical realism, if always evolving, remains the best selfconsciously ontological account or theory of which I am aware, but my primary interest is ontology itself, the study of the structure of the nature of reality. If you were to convince me that critical realism, or an aspect of it, is critically flawed, and showed me something more sustainable, I would be very happy about it. It is not specific results that matter to me as much as relevance. And of specific relevance to social understanding at this point, I remain convinced, is ontology”

Leia aqui uma ótima entrevista com este importante autor sobre economia e ontologia.


Cito aqui algumas passagens que me pareceram interessantes:


“Of course it depends on what we mean by methodology. If you mean the study of methods, all methods have their ontological presuppositions. So it is possible to examine the methods of economists and others, and a lot of my time has been spent doing that, to uncover the kind, I emphasise ‘kind’, of reality they are in effect presupposing. If instead we elaborate a general social ontology, an account of social reality—should that be possible—this can inform substantive theory and choice of method. But it does not directly support any specific theory or method. To go from ontology to theory or method requires additional empirical assessments. Any two people agreeing on a particular ontological conception can differ in their additional empirical claims. But ontological insight helps avoid inappropriate reductionist stances and aids explanatory and ethical work. […] There is no isomorphism between ontological claims and either method or substantive theory. […] Ontology per se cannot be expected to provide any necessary implications in terms of a precise explanatory procedure. But it can provide insight. […] Ontological results point to the sorts of conditions that methods must be designed to be consistent with”

“Any two individuals starting from a shared ontological conception can end up with a different theory of phenomenon X or find themselves investigating it in different ways. Also substantive theories held as true at a moment in time can be revised in due course, with new experiences, without necessarily revising the ontological conception informing the analysis. All such possibilities depend on avoiding the ontological fallacy”

“this dialectical approach, if abstractly formulated, seems to encompass most other explanatory procedures as special cases.”

“I do indeed believe justified (non-dogmatic and nontranscendent) philosophical ontology to be possible”

“What I take to be essential to mainstream economics is the insistence that methods of mathematical modelling be everywhere and always employed in economic analysis. I emphasise the word ‘insistence’. It is this insistence that I reject wholesale. I do not, of course, oppose economists using or experimenting with mathematical methods, though I am pessimistic about the likelihood of much insight being so gained. But I am opposed to the insistence that we must all use these, and only these, methods, that the use of these methods constitutes proper economics, that employment and promotion be restricted to those who use only mathematical models, that only modelling methods be taught to students, and so on. This though is unfortunately the current state of economics. The mainstream dominates. Let me add that I am of course very happy for advocates of the mainstream insistence on mathematical method to defend their case. But currently the method is imposed without argument and in the face of repeated explanatory failure. So yes, if I can emphasise that by the mainstream I mean the insistence on methods of mathematical modelling, mine is a wholesale rejection of this mainstream”

“First, a starting point of my position is the widely recognised long history of failure of mathematical-deductivist modelling in economics. These methods presuppose event regularities or correlations. It has been found that these sorts of regularities rarely occur in the social realm. Second, an additional starting point is that mathematical models are typically found to be formulated in ways that are acknowledged, even by their formulators, as being wildly unrealistic. Third, mathematical economists, many of whom seem endlessly optimistic that success will eventually be achieved, persevere with their modelling endeavours and so seek theories that are consistent with, that guarantee, event regularity formulations. The way this is typically achieved is by their implicitly constructing theories in terms of isolated atoms. By atoms I do not mean something small. I mean factors that have the same effect, if triggered, whatever the context. It is this assumption of atomism that guarantees that if the factor is triggered— this triggering is the first event—the same outcome, the second event, always follows, so long as nothing interferes. It is the assumption of system isolation that guarantees that nothing does interfere. […] Hence, in producing theories couched in terms of isolated atoms that are quite at odds with social reality, modellers are actually compelled to make substantive claims that are wildly unrealistic. And because social reality does not conform to systems of isolated atoms, there is no guarantee that event regularities of the sort pursued will occur. Indeed, they are found not to. […] the need to produce formulations in terms of systems of isolated atoms, where these are not characteristic of social reality, means that unrealistic formulations are more or less unavoidable”

“Every position is realist. I do not know anyone in economics who is not a realist. Some of us, though, are explicit about it. That is a major difference. […] McCloskey is a realist about rhetoric! She is a realist about the economic profession. She is a realist about econometrics… Realism is inescapable! The question is always not whether someone is a realist, but what form that person’s realism takes.



Clique aqui para ler a entrevista completa em PDF.



(*) Agradeço à colega Iren Levina por ter enviado o artigo.







  1. Aquiles Melo
    29 July, 2010 at 7:43

    Caro Tommás, sabe dizer se ele utiliza Lukács? Na entrevista ele não cita o filósofo… Gostei quando ele afirmou: “McCloskey is a realist about rhetoric!” rsrsrs

    • 29 July, 2010 at 7:51


      Eu ainda não pude ler os livros do Lawson. Só li a entrevista mesmo e me interessei pelos escritos do cara. Se eu descobrir algo, te aviso.


  2. Fernando
    26 December, 2010 at 9:39

    Lawson não cita ou utiliza as teorias do Lukacs. O termo Realismo Crítico que Lawson se refere é da filosofia da ciência do filósofo Roy Bhaskar presente nos livros: A Realist Theory Of Science e A Possibility Of Naturalism. O primeiro se refere a filosofia das ciências naturais e o segundo às ciências sociais e é constantemente associado a Marx. É muito interessante vale a pena ler. O livro do Lawson é bom, mas é melhor ir na fonte dele, porque na minha opinião ele negligencia alguns aspectos importantes das debates ontológicos e da filosofia da ciência.


  1. 8 November, 2010 at 21:24

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s