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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 45, Issue 3, 2015

Alexander Pigalev
Pages 167-183
DOI: 10.5840/eps201545382

Physics and Economics
On Conservation Principles in Scientific Research Program

The purpose of the paper is to retrace methodological and epistemological analogies between physics and economics on the basis of the concept of scientific research program that was proposed by I. Lakatos. It is emphasized that these analogies are expressed first of all in a striking resemblance of the notion of energy in physics to the notion of value in economics. The scrutiny of conservation principles points out their generality that not only covers physics and economics, but also presupposes the peculiar metaphysical foundations as the most persistent component of the "hard core" of scientific research programs in question. It is demonstrated that conservation principles rely on the ontology of a closed system which in its germinal form dates back to the mythological worldview and subsequently modeled nature in physics for a longtime and became the basis of the concept of an equivalent exchange in economics as well. The notion of motion is regarded as interlink between the foundations of physics and economics, since both motion and economic exchange are displacement, change and permanence at the same time. The metaphysical background of the conceptualization of substance, thing and motion is examined in the context of the imperative of the identification of nonidentical entities. It is observed that the standard strategy of saving the very idea of conservation at detection of conservation principles violation is system expansion by introducingnew hypothetic objects and parameters provided the system still remains a closed one. This practice structurally coincides with saving the "hard core" of the scientific research program with the help of its "protective belt". The problems of the research strategy under study are discussed in a nutshell taking into account the theoretical consequences of the ontology of the open system.

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