Front Page Titles (by Subject) Professor Friedman\'s Instrumentalism - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4
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Professor Friedman's Instrumentalism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Professor Friedman's Instrumentalism
“A Critique of Friedman's Instrumentalism.” Southern Economic Journal 47(October 1980):366–374.
Lawrence Boland has recently identified Milton Friedman's “positive economics” methodology as a variant of instrumentalism and has asserted that instrumentalism has never been either criticized or refuted. Prof. Boland implies a vindication of Friedman's position.
Prof. Friedman was actually unaware that his position was instrumentalist but accepts Boland's characterization. Unfortunately, Boland's characterization of instrumentalism is incomplete—isolating only the methodological implications while ignoring the ontological questions. Thus, Friedman should actually be viewed as a “methodological instrumentalist.” The core of Friedman's methodological instrumentalism are the beliefs that: (1) the goal of science is to discover hypotheses that predict well, and (2) the “realism” of assumptions does not matter.
In contrast to Boland's assertion concerning the criticism of instrumentalism, post-1940s philosophers of science unanimously reject the notion that the only goal of science is prediction; they favor the the alternative claim that the goal of science is explanation. If explanation is taken as the goal of science, then methodological instrumentalism fails for it is concerned with predictive adequacy, not explanation.
“Perhaps the most damaging claim against Friedman's own particular brand of instrumentalism is not that it is incorrect, or even implausible, but that it must be viewed, in the light of the more recent work, as anachronistic.”