Mathematical discourse and cross-disciplinary communities: The case of political economy

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This paper explores the role of symbolic languages within and between positivist disciplines. Symbolic languages, of which mathematics is the most important example, consist of tautologically true statements, such as 2 + 2 = 4. These must be operationalized before being useful for positivist research agendas (i.e. two apples and two oranges make four fruit). Disciplines may borrow either the symbolic languages of another discipline or the symbolic language and the accompanying operationalizations. The choice has important theoretical effects, and affects the kind of interdisciplinary community created. The game theory community is an example of a community based on the interdisciplinary exchange of symbolic language only, while the ' political economy' community exchanges both symbolic languages and operationalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-73
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Epistemology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)


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