Front Page Titles (by Subject) Milton Friedman\'s Critics - Literature of Liberty, Winter 1980, vol. 3, No. 4
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Milton Friedman's Critics - 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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Milton Friedman's Critics
“A Critique of Friedman's Critics.” Journal of Economic Literature 17(June 1979):503–522.
Milton Friedman's essay, “Methodology of Positive Economics” (1953), enjoys authoritative status among textbook writers; however, virtually all journal articles written about this methodological essay have been highly critical. Why, Prof. Boland asks, do honest textbook writers ignore the critics? He argues that the reason for this paradox is quite clear. Every critic of Friedman's essay has been wrong. They have not recognized that his methodological position is both logically sound and unambiguously based on a coherent philosophy of science, namely instrumentalism.
Boland reviews the underlying logical principles of Friedman's methodology: modus ponens vs. modus tollens, notions of necessity and sufficiency, conjunctive and disjunctive arguments. He emphasizes that logic itself provides little help in determining the truth of assumptions or conclusions. Logic can only ‘pass along’ known truths. This limitation of traditional logic leads to a discussion of the so-called problem of induction. Unfortunately, no logician has ever solved this problem of how one argues from the truth of particulars to general truths.
Instrumentalists such as Friedman concern themselves only with the usefulness of conclusions drawn from assumptions or general theories. They may allow that theories or assumptions can be true, but they argue that truth or falsity does not matter in so far as the utility of the conclusions is concerned.
As a result, Friedman rejects the “testing” of hypotheses in the sense of verification of the truth of propositions. For him successful testing is merely confirmation that assumptions have yielded conclusions allowing accurate prediction of future events. Thus, Friedman's view assumes an “as if” theory of explanation. Even false assumptions may be treated as if they were true, as long as observed phenomena follow from them.
Prof. Boland finally analyzes the objections to Friedman's essay raised by prominent economists (Koopmans, Rotwein, Bear, Orr, Melitz, De Alessi, and Samuelson). Their critiques, he judges, uniformly arise from misunderstanding Friedman's instrumentalist methodology. Friedman himself is partly to blame for this confusion by seeming to be concerned with the verifiability or refutability of true scientific theories. What Friedman actually presents is an alternative to that kind of methodological discussion. Unfortunately, most critics miss this point.