Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
Theories of Capitalist Development.
A Comparative Evaluation1
Ignacio Trucco*
Date submited: November 12, 2011. Date accepted: January 25, 2012

This work seeks to compare a set of theories on capitalist development by investigating the assumptions made on the nature and dynamics of society. This work aims to show possible paradoxes when interpreting social change under the assumption of static societies. First, ideas from conventional economic theory are contrasted with the theoretical treatment of growth in the Harrod-Domar model and Rostow’s interpretation of historical dynamics, taking into account critiques from Germani and Medina Echavarría. Secondly, Hirschman-Myrdal’s and Prebisch-Singer’s contributions are expanded upon, concluding with a critique developed by Furtado. Finally, the work investigates these aspects on the neoclassical side of development theory based on proposals from New Institutional Economics.

Keywords: development, capitalism, comparative theory, debate, paradoxes.

In the field of social science, there is always a chapter reserved for considering relationships that give rise to normative statements and supposedly objective statements. In this field, a large gap has opened up, whose solution has predominantly ended up as biased and inconclusive.

Kant’s Criticism has had a decisive influence on scientists such as Weber or Simmel (for Weber, see González García, 1988), where the inherited model of functioning fostered a radical separation between theoretical and practical theory, although, as can be read in Weber, practical valuations always have a preponderant role in the meaning of intellectual activity. Weber summarizes this as follows:

There is and always will be--and this is the reason that it concerns us--an unbridgeable distinction among (1) those arguments which appeal to our capacity to become enthusiastic about and our feeling for concrete practical aims or cultural forms and values, (2) those arguments in which, once it is a question of the validity of ethical norms, the appeal is directed to our conscience, and finally (3) those arguments which appeal to our capacity and need for thought ordering of empirical reality in a manner which lays claim to validity as empirical truth. This proposition remains correct, despite, as we shall see, the fact that those highest "values" underlying the practical interest are and always will be decisively significant in determining the focus of attention of thinking activity in the sphere of the cultural sciences (Weber, 1949: 11).

The relationship between two fields that are supposedly entirely different is always referenced in the history of economic thought: normative and positive economics together weave this story. Ricardo Gómez, for example, argues about this key point of the dominant economic theory, which is presented as a pretense of neutrality, and the author shows how this is a contradiction in and of itself (Gómez, 2002).

Development theories have a special place in this uncomfortable zone where normative and standard economics exceed their respective limits, in many cases without being clearly explicit. This study seeks to contribute to clarifying this point, above all by attempting to methodically show, unlike what is extensively held in the field of development theory , the problems that these theories propose have a positivist foundation, in essence, and not a normative one. As such, this work seeks to clarify the characteristics of this “uncomfortable” place, by showing what positive principle has thus far not been explicitly expressed. Based on the developments in this work, it can be seen that this difficulty is intimately linked to the treatment of the spatial-temporal movement of society in each perspective, which, moreover, is based on assumptions that these authors make on the nature of man and socialization. As such, the reading proposed by these two different approaches is structured based on the following principle: every critique falls back on the way the movement is treated. At the same time, each theory presents inherent limits, as it is impossible to integrate the movement in the concept of the nature of man and his eminently static socialization.

To start to clear up the limits between positive and normative elements of development theories , we can go back to the Weberian approach reviewed above.

1 This work is part of the author’s doctoral thesis.

* Lecturer at the Economic Sciences Department of the Universidad Nacional del Litoral Santa Fe, Argentina.
E-mail: ignacio.trucco@gmail.com

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 193, April-June 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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