Reflexivity: Curse or Cure?
Format of Original
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Journal of Economic Methodology
Reflexivity has been argued to be self‐defeating and potentially devastating for the sociology of scientific knowledge. We first survey various meanings associated with the concept of reflexivity and then provide an interpretation of Velázquez's Las Meñinas to generate a three‐part taxonomy of reflexivity, distinguishing between ‘immanent’, ‘epistemic’ and ‘transcendent’ reflexivity. This provides the basis for engaging with reflexivity as a problem in the economic methodology literature, focusing on recent contributions to the topic by Hands, Sent, Mäki and Mirowski. Employment of our taxonomy clarifies the similarities and differences between the various forms of reflexivity that can be identified or are addressed in these contributions. Our main argument is that a successful response to the malign aspects of reflexivity requires a simultaneous consideration of various levels of reflexivity and relies on social–historical perspectives.