Journal Article

Clarence Ayres, technology, pragmatism and progress

Anne Mayhew

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Published on behalf of Cambridge Political Economy Society

Volume 34, issue 1, pages 213-222
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/ben062
Clarence Ayres, technology, pragmatism and progress

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Individual Economists
  • History of Economic Thought (1925 onwards)

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This paper explores the origins and continued relevance of Clarence Ayres’ definition of technology as a process involving both physical tools and a scientific method of reasoning, where science is understood to achieve cross-cultural explanatory power by virtue of technological validation. Ayres’ concept of technology derived from his training as a Pragmatist and was primarily philosophical rather than descriptive, but is congruent with the work of modern historians of technology and remains useful in addressing a variety of concerns about both the promise and dangers of technological change.

Keywords: Pragmatism; Veblen; Progress; Cross-cultural validity; Scientific method; Instrumentalism; B25; B31; O30

Journal Article.  5383 words. 

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Individual Economists ; History of Economic Thought (1925 onwards)

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