Working Paper No. 221 | December 1997

Policy Innovation As a Discovery Procedure

Exploring the Tacit Fringes of the Policy Formulation Process

Economist Adolph Lowe's instrumental analysis examines the process of policy formulation as a regressive procedure of discovery. Taking as given a predetermined desired end state, the task of an innovator is to discover the technical and social path from the present position to the end state. The role for the economist in policy formulation, therefore, is not simply to examine the results of current policy, but to discover the means that will lead to the desired end state. Lowe cites others before him who had held a similar perspective—philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, mathematician George Polya, and chemist Michael Polanyi—but Lowe does not elaborate on the connection between his analysis and theirs. Visiting Scholar Mathew Forstater, of Gettysburg College, investigates the relationship between the work of these scientists and Lowe's instrumentalism.

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