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Working Backwards: Instrumental analysis as a policy discovery procedure

By Mathew Forstater

Abstract

Following up on suggestions of Adolph Lowe, the paper draws on the work of Peirce, Polya and Michael Polanyi to elaborate the notion of Lowe's instrumental analysis as a policy discovery procedure. It is argued that such an interpretation of Lowe's instrumentalism may contribute to the formulation of effective practical policies. It is also argued in the paper that this interpretation throws light on some issues concerning markets and planning that relate to the debate on socialist calculation that has been revived in the name of the 'knowledge problem' by contemporary Austrian economists. In particular, it is argued that Lowe's Instrumentalism brings to the fore the role of discovery and creativity-which are central to Austrian conceptions of entrepreneurial activity in the market-in policy formulation. In this sense Lowe's work may be seen as an antecedent to more recent work in planning that critiques-and promotes nonessentialist alternatives to-optimal or rational planning.

DOI identifier: 10.1080/095382599107147
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