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The Historical Distinctiveness of Central Europe

A Study in the Philosophy of History


Krzysztof Brzechczyn

The aim of this book is to explain economic dualism in the history of modern Europe. The emergence of the manorial-serf economy in the Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary in the 16th and the 17th centuries was the result of a cumulative impact of various circumstantial factors. The weakness of cities in Central Europe disturbed the social balance – so characteristic for Western-European societies – between burghers and the nobility. The political dominance of the nobility hampered the development of cities and limited the influence of burghers, paving the way to the rise of serfdom and manorial farms. These processes were accompanied by increased demand for agricultural products in Western Europe

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4 The Method of Idealization in the Historical Sciences

4 The Method of Idealization in the Historical Sciences

1 Idealization in the Social Sciences: Case Studies

Idealization of the investigated reality is one of the principal methods of research in the contemporary methodology of science. On the force of adopted assumptions, a theoretician examining a given phenomenon does not approach the object of research in all its complexity and complication, but focuses on those aspects of the researched phenomenon recognized from his or her theoretical perspective as principal and substantial, and excludes others, recognized as secondary. Hence, scientific cognition does not depend on faithful imitation of reality, but on its deformation that is able to detect the most significant relations and dependencies. Then, at the second stage of scientific research, the deformed reality becomes more realistic, as the researcher introduces into the simplified approach of the investigated object the secondary aspects, which were omitted in the preliminary model, and which modify the primary laws and dependencies.

The natural sciences have adopted the method of idealization most effectively. For instance, the method of idealization is applied by physicists who create models of point mass, perfect gas or models of black body. They omit the less important aspects of the researched phenomenon and focus on the aspects most essential from their perspective. In the humanities, the procedure of idealization was first and is most broadly used in economics. Therefore, I will present the methodological principles employed by researchers developing economic theories, by analyzing a simple multiplier model of economic growth.136

The model comprises two statements:

Ct = c0 + mYt

Yt = Ct + It

Key: Y – national product; C – consumption, I – investment, t – period of time; m and c – constants.137

←91 | 92→

Lawrence R. Klein concludes his analysis of the model with the following words: “The simple multiplier model is useful in demonstrating some basic principles, but it is hardly a realistic model of a modern economy.”138

In the above-presented example, the following factors: the consumption level (Ct), the investment volume (It), the difference between import and export (Ft − Et) and the difference between budget expenses and incomes (Gt − Tt) are the determinants that exert impact on the value of the national product (Yt) and the consumption level (Ct). It is obvious that not all from, the above-listed factors influence the variables under study in the same way. We could make a reasonable assumption that the consumption level and the investment level from the initial statement of the multiplier model exert more influence on the value of the national product, in comparison to the difference between export and import, and the difference between budget expenses and incomes. The investment level is also more essential for the consumption level than the above-mentioned difference between export and import, and the difference between budget expenses and incomes. In consequence, to investigate the dependency of variables from the most essential magnitudes, we have to adopt certain simplifying assumptions and exclude less significant factors. The assumptions of the model include the following:

(a1) – the investigated variables Yt and C are not influenced by factors not explicitly expressed in the multiplier model; any arbitrary factor external to the model is marked as P, hence (Pt (x) = 0);

(a2) – the economy under study is an economy with balanced foreign exchange, hence the value of export equals the value of import (Ft (x) − Et (x) = 0);

(a3) – national budget is balanced – tax income equals national expenses (Gt (x) − Tt (x) = 0).

The reconstruction of the simplifying procedure of the entire idealizational law that demonstrates the dependency of the social product and the consumption level from the principal factors, can be shown symbolically in the following way:

Pt(x)= 0 ^ Ft(x) − E t(x) = 0 ^ G t(x) − Tt(x) = 0 → Yt(x) = Ct(x) + It(x)

Pt(x)= 0 ^ Ft(x) − E t(x) = 0 ^ G t(x) − Tt(x) = 0 → Ct(x) = c0+ mYt(x)

The theses of the model apply when we adopt a certain type of simplifying assumptions that are rarely met in real economy.

In the course of further extension of the model, the initially adopted simplifying assumptions are gradually removed. First, we assume that the export value (Et(x)) is different from the import value (Ft (x)). After this assumption is ←92 | 93→removed, the independent variable – the national product (Yt) becomes under influence on other dependent variables in the following way:

Pt(x) = 0 ^ Ft(x) − E t(x) ≠ 0 ^ Gt(x) − Tt(x) = 0 → Yt(x) = Ct(x) + It(x) + E t(x) − Ft(x)

In a similar way, it is considered the question of how the functioning of an open economy influences the consumption value (Ct). A peculiarity of this form of concretization consists in the fact that a removal of the first assumption does not bring about an introduction of amendments to the formulated statement:

Pt (x)= 0 ^ Ft (x) − E t(x) ≠ 0 ^ Gt(x) − Tt (x) = 0 → Ct(x) = c0 + mYt(x)

Subsequently, we waive the assumption that the budget of the studied economy is balanced. After this assumption is removed, the value of budget incomes (Tt) does not equal budget expenses (Gt). In this more realistic model of economy, the value of the social product is established in the following way:

Pt(x) = 0 ^ F(x) − E(x) ≠ 0 ^ G(x) − T(x) ≠ 0 → Yt (x)= Ct (x) + It (x) + G(x) + Et (x) − Ft(x)

The removal of the second assumption on the balanced budget of the economy under analysis causes a modification of the previously formulated second dependency. Then, the level of consumption depends on the following factors in the following way:

Pt (x) = 0 ^ Ft(x) − Et (x) ≠ 0 ^ Gt (x) − Tt(x) ≠ 0 → Ct(x) = c0 + m(Yt(x) − Tt(x))

The economic theory under study is a sequence of models. The designated simple multiplier model consists of a pair of statements that demonstrate the dependency of two investigated quantities Yt and Ct from the most essential factors Yt, Ct and It. Following from this, the simple multiplier model applies when we are dealing with a number of simplifying assumptions that cause it to be directly inapplicable to real economic systems. However, developed variants of the multiplier model include less simplifying assumptions and demonstrate the dependency of magnitudes under study from the principal and side determinants, such as the difference between export and import, between budget incomes and expenses, and many other that were excluded from the present simplified presentation. In consequence, the developed variants of the multiplier model are closer to real economies, in comparison to the more simplified version of that model.

The two procedures introduced in the above example – the idealization and concretization of the investigated dependencies – are systematically developed ←93 | 94→and analyzed by the idealizational theory of science (hereinafter as ITS). In the present chapter, I will refer to the above example in an attempt to present the principal ideas of the theory and its application to the historical sciences.

2 The Method of Idealization

Let us now outline the principal ideas of ITS employed in the present book.139 According to ITS, before creating a theory, a researcher identifies factors that influence the phenomenon under analysis. According to his or her empirical knowledge, every magnitude under study F has an array of determinants {H, pk, …, p2, p1} that influence it in a number of ways. All determinants of a given magnitude F create a space of influence. Naturally, these factors influence the studied magnitude to varied degrees. In consequence, we could say that these factors differ with reference to essentiality. The term “essential” and “more essential” are among the most important terms of the idealizational theory of science. According to this conception, magnitude H is essential to magnitude F if the adoption of a certain value by H excludes the possibility of the adoption of any value by F.140 The influence of one factor on another is, hence, determined by a ←94 | 95→set of values WF(H) that the magnitude studied cannot adopt. The set WF(H) can be also named a strength or power of influence of factor H on magnitude F under analysis. I am going to use these terms alternatively. Such an account of essentiality also makes it possible to explain the concept of being “more essential.” Magnitude H is more essential to F if the power of influence of magnitude H on F exceeds the power of influence of the factor p on F. This can be demonstrated graphically in the following way:

Thus, the above figure demonstrates the power of influence of factors H and p on the phenomenon under study. The power of influence of the factor H is greater than the power of influence of the factor p if the set WF(H) is composed of more elements than the set WF(p); hence, the factor H is more essential to the magnitude F than the factor p.

With the use of the terms “essential” and “more essential,” it is possible to reconstruct the essential structure of the studied magnitude by distinguishing three kinds of influence exerted by any factor ni on the magnitude F:

maximal – if a factor ni adopting a value ai excludes NF-1 of the values assumed by the magnitude F, what means that the value adopted by F is strictly determined by factor ni;

predominant – if the factor ni assuming value ai, excludes the majority of values adopted by the magnitude F from the set NF;

←95 | 96→

minimal – if the factor ni excludes the minority of values of the magnitude F from the set NF (in extreme situations only one value).

In the conceptual apparatus of ITS, the principal factors exert maximal and predominant, influence, whereas secondary factors exert the minimal influence. This enables recreation of a hierarchy of influence of individual factors and, in turn, reconstruction of the essential structure of a phenomenon under investigation. The procedure depends on the identification of factors that affect the analyzed magnitude in any way and on the ordering of the power of influence from the strongest to the weakest. The order of the power of influence of several factors on the phenomenon under study can be demonstrated graphically in the following way:

←96 | 97→

The essential hierarchy of determinants in the space of factors essential to F makes it possible to recreate the essential structure of the magnitude under investigation. If in the structure, the strength of influence of the factor H exceeds the strength of influence of the other factors pk, . . ., p2, p1, then the factor H is the principal factor for the studied magnitude and the other factors belong to the class of secondary factors – each one of them eliminates the minority of values of the magnitude F from the set NF. The essential structure of the magnitude can be presented in the following way:

SF:    (k) H

(k1) H, pk

. …. …. …. …. …. …. ….

(1) H, pk, p2

(0) H, pk, p2, p1

There is only one principal factor H at the deepest internal level of essentiality of the essential structure of the magnitude F. Further levels of essentiality of the essential structure of the magnitude F(k−1), . . ., (1) include a number of secondary factors. The surface level (0) of the essential structure includes all factors that somewhat influence the magnitude F under study.

Let us notice that in the example under study, the determining factors of the national product (Y) are ordered in a similar way. The deepest level of essentiality of the essential structure of the national product (Yt) contains the following factors: the consumption level (Ct) and the investment level (I). The surface level of essentiality, apart from these two factors, additionally contains the difference between import and export (EF) and the difference between the amount of budget incomes and expenses (G–T).

Additionally, the distinction between the power of influence of individual factors enables to differentiate two basic kinds of essential structures:

(1) dominated by the essence, with the power of influence of the principal factor (exerting maximal or predominant influence) higher than the sum of the strength of powers of influence of all secondary factors;

(2) dominated by accidentals where the sum of the strength of power of influence of secondary factors is higher than the power of influence of the principal factor.

Following a reconstruction of the essential structure of the magnitude F under study, a researcher reconstructs its nomological structures. Such a structure consists of a sequence of dependencies manifesting connections between the investigated ←97 | 98→magnitude and the factors present at different levels of essentiality. The dependency fk connecting the magnitude F under analysis with its principal determinant is termed regularity. The dependency fk−1 describes how the factor H and the secondary factor pk influence the magnitude F. This dependency consists of two functions: the regularity fk defining the influence of the principal factor H and the corrective function h(pk) defining the impact of the secondary factor pk on the magnitude F.

In terms of ITS, the function fk−1 is also named a directional function because it demonstrates how the influence h(pk) of the factor pk modifies the impact of the principal factor H on the magnitude F. This kind of dependency that manifests connections between magnitudes under investigation and secondary factors present at further levels of essentiality is a form of manifestation of regularity of the further rows – the first, the second, etc.

The notion of essential structure should be distinguished from the notion of the image of the structure. The essential structure is the actual hierarchy of factors influencing the magnitude F under study. The image of the essential structure is a construct developed by a researcher under the – correct or incorrect – assumption that the particular factors are the principal or the secondary ones for the magnitude F. The image of the essential structure is identical to the structure itself when the factor assumed by the researcher to be principal, is actually the principal factor, and the factors assumed to be secondary, are actually secondary factors for the essential structure of the magnitude under investigation. For this reason, the image of the essential structure can vary from the scope of the essential structure, and the level of truthfulness of the statements adopting images of the essential structure can be different.141

The range of scientific theory can be fully adequate, partially adequate and inadequate with the scope of the given theory. The scientific theory is fully adequate when range U of the essential structure recreated by a researcher is identical with scope Z of the essential structure of the magnitude F.142 In the class of partially adequate theories, we can distinguish too narrow, too broad, and “jumping” theories. The theory is too narrow where range U advocated by a researcher is a proper subset of the scope Z. The theory is too broad where scope Z is proper superset of range U. In the case of a “jumping” theory, image U and scope Z non-emptily intersect each other. The theory is inadequate when the intersection of elements belonging to a range U and a scope Z is empty.

←98 | 99→

To conclude, the method of idealization consists in the minimization of the influence of factors perceived as exerting secondary influence on the magnitude under study. Based on the idealizing assumption,

pi(x) = 0,

we assume that, when it takes on a null value, the factor pi does not impact the magnitude under analysis. As a result, a statement can be formulated that the analyzed magnitude F depends solely on its principal factor. For quantitative cases, the statement can be presented in the following way:

U(x) ^ pk(x) = 0 ^ pk-1(x) = 0 ^, . . ., ^ p1(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk(H(x))

The above-formulated statement is the idealizational law. Its antecedent consists of counter-factual assumptions adopting that all secondary factors do not exert any influence on the magnitude under study. Such assumptions are met empty in the empirical world where the analyzed phenomena are subject to the influence of principal and secondary determinants. However, by adopting such assumptions, it is possible to demonstrate how the magnitude F under investigation depends on the principal factor H.

3 The Idealizational Law and Its Concretization

The procedure of idealization is only one of the sides of theory building. The other side is the procedure of concretization of the idealizational law that demonstrates how the object under analysis depends not only on the principal factors, but also on the secondary determinants that modify the basic laws and dependencies.

According to ITS, the procedure of concretization consists in gradual removal of preliminarily adopted idealizing assumptions and in introduction of appropriate amendments to the formula of the starting statement. The antecedent of the idealizational law adopts a realistic assumption that the value of one of the secondary factors varies from the minimal value it was appropriated with in the idealizing assumption. Afterwards, it is determined how this factor modifies the preliminarily determined basic dependencies. The concretization procedure has a determined order. First, the idealizing assumptions that concern the factors from the class of secondary factors that exert the highest influence on the studied magnitude are removed. Afterwards, the influence of the secondary factors that exert less influence on the analyzed magnitude is taken under consideration. Hence, the concretized idealizational statement has the following shape:

U(x)^ pk(x) ≠ 0 ^ pk-1(x) = 0 ^, . . ., ^ pl(x) = 0 → F = fk-1(H(x), pk(x))

←99 | 100→

The idealizing assumption that the value of the factor pk(x) equals zero was removed in the antecedent of the above statement. The assumption was substituted with a thesis stating that the above-mentioned factor adopts another value different than zero. The consequent of the statement demonstrated how one of the concretized secondary factors modifies the dependencies that affect the magnitude under study. Hence, the dependency fk−1 demonstrating the impact of the principal factor H and one of the secondary factors pk is the first form of manifestation of regularity. This regularity is a superposition of two dependencies: the dependency fk taking place between the magnitude F and the principal factor H, and the dependency occurring between the studied magnitude and the secondary factor pk. Thus, this factor modifies the starting dependencies established in the idealizational law.

The concretization procedure concludes with a formulation of a statement that does not include any of the idealizing assumptions. Hence, the final concretization of the idealizational law is a factual statement.

Another form of concretization is the degenerate concretization. It takes place when the removal of one of the idealizing assumptions does not modify the dependency that the investigated magnitude is subjected to (an “empty amendment” occurs). An example of a degenerate concretization in a simple multiplier model of the economic growth is the inclusion of the influence of the difference between export and import (Ft(x) – Et(x) = 0) on the consumption value.

In the research practice, scientists do not implement a final concretization where all simplifying assumptions of the idealizational law are removed. Usually, after implementing a series of concretizations, the influence of other, less essential secondary factors is determined via approximation. It consists in a process where secondary factors are attributed values that vary from the minimal values attributed to factors in idealizing assumptions and from empirical ones. In the formulated approximation statement, F(x) only approximately equals the value of function fk−1 that expresses the dependency of the magnitude under investigation from the approximated determinants. The above difference is demonstrated by the variable ε referred to as the threshold of approximation.

Every idealizational theory is a sequence of models differentiated by a number of adopted idealizing assumptions. Model I of the theory demonstrates the studied dependencies solely on the principal factors, therefore, it comprises of a number of idealizational laws of the above type. The initial statement excludes the influence of secondary factors on the phenomena under analysis. However, it allows a researcher to focus on the determinants principal for the studied phenomena, by omitting the impact of the incidental factors. Further developed models examine the impact of the secondary factors on the investigated ←100 | 101→phenomena. They include less idealizing assumptions and are closer to the empirical reality.

Idealizational scientific theories can have various structures. The basic kinds are the linear structure and the star structure idealizational theory. In the scientific theory of a linear structure, new secondary factors are introduced into the last model of the given theory gradually reducing the number of idealizing assumptions.

In the theory of a star-like structure, there is a central basic model with k idealizing assumptions and a set of derivative models with k−1 idealizing assumptions. A scientist using the star-like structure type of theory, when approaching an analysis of the influence of a given secondary factor on the phenomenon under investigation, waives one of the idealizing assumptions of the basic model and develops a derivative model with k−1 idealizing assumptions. However, if a theoretician aims to analyze the impact of another secondary factor, he/she does not continue the process of concretization of the derivative model by, e.g., building a model with k−2 idealizing assumptions but, instead, reinstates the idealizing assumption removed in the first derivative model, he/she “returns” to the basic model. Only then, the theoretician waives one of the idealizing assumptions of the basic model required to investigate the secondary factor he/she finds interesting, and builds another derivative model also with k−1 idealizing assumptions.

The multiplier model recreated here has a linear structure. First, one of the statements of the simple multiplier model demonstrating dependencies between the magnitude of the national product (Yt) and the consumption level (Ct) and the investment level (It) is broadened by a derivative variant investigating the influence of the difference between export and import (Et – Ft) on the level of the national product (Yt). Second, a new secondary factor that is included in the difference between budget incomes and expenses (Gt – Tt) is introduced into the concretized variant of a simple multiplier model. Hence, a further-developed multiplier model, which is a concretization of a simple multiplier model, demonstrates the simultaneous impact of two secondary factors: the difference between export and import, and the difference between budget expenses and incomes.

The explanation why the magnitude F on the object a has a particular value consists in demonstration of a dependency connecting the magnitude F with the principal factor H.143 Subsequently, increasingly realistic concretizations are derived from the idealizational law with such formula. The concretizations ←101 | 102→of the idealizational law that include the impact of secondary factors demonstrate how the factors modify the impact of the basic regulations that the studied magnitude F is subject to. The procedure of concretization concludes with a formulation of a factual statement that does not include any idealizing assumptions in the antecedent. The explained statement results from a factual statement formulated based on the procedure of concretization and its starting conditions.

4 Operationalization of the Idealizational Theory

Operationalization, or a procedure of attributing theoretical concepts with an empirical sense, is one of the significant aspects of ITS. Let us now discuss the approach toward this issue developed by Elżbieta Hornowska.144 According to the concept, every theoretical factor A has an area of influence WA1. The direct area of influence includes all factors that factor A is essential to. The indirect area of influence of the factor A includes all factors that the factors from the direct area of influence WA1 are essential to. This type of dependency between the theoretical factor A and the factors belonging to the indirect area of influence occurs when factor A is essential to B, and B is essential to C. In consequence, the factors of type C create an area of influence of the theoretical factor A of the second level WA2. The sum of sets WA1, …, WAq creates the sum of all areas of influence of the factor A.

In the area of influence of the theoretical factor A, one can differentiate an area of its identification. Let us now assume that WA1 is the first area of influence of the theoretical factor A that includes an observable factor Q. This factor ←102 | 103→is an identifier of the theoretical factor A if there are observable states of affairs that depend on the value of the theoretical factor for particular objects. A set of identifiers of such kind creates an area of identification of the theoretical factor A in its space of influence. Every identifier Q has a particular essential structure. Depending on the place taken by the theoretical factor A in the essential structure of the factor Q, one can distinguish identifiers of the factor A of varied accuracy. Factor Q is a more accurate identifier for the theoretical factor A if this magnitude is the principal factor for the given identifier, in comparison to a situation when the theoretical factor A is a secondary factor.

An ontological thesis of empiricism is formulated in the above-described conceptual apparatus. According to this thesis, every theoretical factor has an area of empirical identification in its space of influence. As a result, there are no theoretical factors that without observable implications.

The procedure of operationalization consists of three stages. In the first stage, a scientist constructs a magnitude, which is a theoretical image of a factor. In the second stage, a researcher reconstructs the areas of influence of this magnitude. In the third stage, a scientist identifies the area of empirical identification. It is relied on finding an observable magnitude B connected to the theoretical magnitude A with a relation of (usually indirect) significance-consequence. Therefore, a scientist determines how the theoretical magnitude is manifested on the observatory level. As a result of this cognitive operation, the magnitude is transformed into a variable (operationalized magnitude).

According to Elżbieta Hornowska, operationalization varies from measurement. Measurement, a procedure external from operationalization, consists in a transformation of the variable into a set of scale values that describe it. Only then, based on the adopted rules of operationalization and measurement of the values of a variable, a theoretical image of factor A is fully reconstructed.

5 On Some Extensions of the Idealizational Theory of Science

5.1 On Different Kinds of Counter-Factual Assumptions

The above sections from 2 to 4 presented the general essential features of ITS. A further development of the conception occurred in the direction of refining the above-drafted initial image, or amending it. The point of departure of the process of refining the ITS image was an observation that the antecedents of the formulated counter-factual statements include assumptions that do not fully satisfied criteria of the idealizing assumption. These counter-factual assumptions include aggregating, quasi-idealizing and stabilizing assumptions.

←103 | 104→

An aggregating assumption consists in simplifying the internal structure of the magnitude under interrogation.145 This assumption adopts that the composition or structure of the studied factors does not influence the formulated dependencies. An aggregating assumption is removed in the process of disaggregation. Then, the internal structure of the studied factors is treated as if it was an additional factor with an influence that modifies the dependencies established preliminarily with the adoption of aggregating assumptions.

The quasi-idealizing assumption is an assumption that is satisfied under a number of conditions.146 Let us now assume that there is a universe where factor p is determined. In the subset K of the universe U, p really takes on null value: for x ϵ K: p(x) = 0. Magnitude p ascertained on objects belonging to the remaining part of the set U adopts values different than minimal: for y ϵ U-K: p(y) ≠ 0. Objects from the set K, on which the magnitude p adopts minimal values belong to a range of realization of the quasi-idealizing assumption, and objects from the set U-K, on which the magnitude p adopts values different from zero, belong to a range of idealization of quasi-idealizing assumption.

The distinguishing of quasi-idealizing assumptions allows a deeper characterization of the type of the adopted simplifying assumptions in the simple multiplier model analyzed above. The simplifications concerning the balance between import and export or the possible balance between budget incomes and expenses are, in fact, quasi-idealizing assumptions. Such conditions can be idealizing assumptions only when, for example, the difference between the value of export and import of a particular economy does not equal zero, therefore, it does not adopt the minimal intensity. Conditions that are, to our knowledge, met in the empirical world are not idealizing assumptions.

In the course of a limited concretization, the quasi-idealizing condition is removed. Two statements are derived from an idealizing assumption that has ←104 | 105→a quasi-idealizing assumption in the antecedent. The first statement is limited to the range where the assumption is met. Hence, such concretization does not bring any added value to the preliminarily adopted dependencies. The second statement concerns the range where the condition really is the idealizing condition. In this case, the implementation of a concretization modifies the initial dependencies, but its correction is limited to the range where the concretized assumption has a character of idealization.

Another type of counter-factual assumption is a stabilizing assumption.147 It occurs when a given variable does not assume the minimal value but a particular constant value. The removal of the stabilizing assumptions is termed a destabilization. It consists in assuming that a given factor does not adopt a particular constant value d, but a different value.

5.2 On the Specification of Idealizational Statements

Note that the combination of the procedure of concretization with the recreation of the range is associated with another procedure that is yet to be conceptualized. I will term it the specification of the range of theory. Let us assume that we have a theory of the factor F with the range identical to the scope of the essential structure determined in this statement. Hence, the essential structure in the range L has the following form:


H, p

However, in some sub-ranges, the theory TF is subject to additional factors. For example, in the sub-range L1 it is subject to factor q, and in sub-range L2 to factor r.

SF L1: H                                            SF L2: H

H, p                                                 H, p

H, p, g                                             H, p, r

In this case, a specification of the theory TF is implemented. First, the initial range of validity of the theory is narrowed down to the factors H and p. Second, the influence of the secondary factors g and r on the magnitude F is determined, ←105 | 106→and the range of these factors is established. They do operate in the entire range of validity of the theory, but in particular sub-ranges L1 and L2.

The modified statement for range L1 after the implementation of a specification of the theory can be demonstrated in the following way:

L1(x) ^ q(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk(H(x))

L1(x) ^ q(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk-1(H(x), p(x))

L1(x) ^ q(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk-1’’(H(x), p(x), q(x))

Whereas, the modified statement of the second sub-range can be demonstrated in the following way:

L2(x) ^ r(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk (H(x)

L2(x) ^ r(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk-1’(H(x), p(x))

L2(x) ^ r(x) = 0 ^ p(x) = 0 → F(x) = fk-1’’(H(x), p(x), r(x))

Chronological specification is a variant of the specification of the idealizational theory. The image of the essential structure and the idealizing statements are relativized to range and, additionally, to time.148 Let us consider the idealizational theory of the factor F concerning the impact of the principal factor H and the secondary factor p, relativized to the period of time. Let us assume that in intervals T the magnitude under study is additionally influenced by other secondary factors. In such case, a scientist also narrows down the initial time range of validity of the theory TF with active factors H and p, determines the influence of the additional factors q and r on the magnitude under investigation, and establishes the range of their influence. L1 is interpreted as an interval with the first essential structure in force, and L2 with the second essential structure in force.

The combination of the two types of specification described above is a chronological-territorial specification. In this case, we determine the sub-range of the impact of the factors q and r, as well the interval T in which these factors are in force. After the implementation a chronological-territorial specification of ←106 | 107→the factors q and r, the statements of the idealizational theory of the magnitude F can be demonstrated in the following way (to simplify, I have assumed that the factors q and r operate in the same interval t2):

L(x,t1) ^ q(x, t1) = 0 ^ r(x, t1) = 0 ^ p(x,t1) = 0 → F(x,t1) = fk (H(x,t1))

L(x,t1) ^ q(x,t1) = 0 ^ r(x,t1) = 0 ^ p(x,t1) ≠ 0 → F(x,t1) = fk-1(H(x,t1)), p(x,t1))

L1(x,t2) ^ q(x,t2) ≠ 0 ^ r(x,t2) = 0 ^ p(x, t1) ≠ 0 → F(x,t2) = fk-1(H(x,t2)), p(x,t2), q(x,t2))

L2(x, t2) ^ q(x,t2) = 0 ^ r(x,t2) ≠ 0 ^ p(x,t2) ≠ 0 → F(x,t2) = fk-1(H(x,t2)), p(x,t2), r(x,t2))

L(x,t3) ^ q(x,t3) = 0 ^ r(x,t3) = 0 ^ p(x,t3) ≠ 0 → F(x,t3) = fk-1(H(x,t3), p(x,t3))

6 The Comparative Method and Idealization

The comparative method is one of the basic strategies of building scientific theories in comparative historical sociology.149 The present book offers a comparison of the socio-historical development of Bohemian, Polish, and Hungarian societies; therefore, it is worth considering the methodological assumptions of the above-mentioned method. Victoria E. Bonnell distinguishes between two basic comparative methods: “illustrative” and “analytical.” In the case of illustrative comparison:

The main point of comparison is between equivalent units, on the one hand, and the theory or concept on the other. This variant evaluates individual units on the one hand and a theory or concept on the other. This variant evaluates individual units not in relation to each other but in relation to a basic theory or concept applicable to all of them.150

Whereas, in the analytical comparison:

The main point of comparison is between or among equivalent units. The comparison involves an identification of independent variables that serve to explain common or contrasting patterns of occurrences. The investigator juxtaposes equivalent units with each other in order to discern regularities that might provide explanatory generalisations.151

←107 | 108→

The two types of comparative methods are distinguished based on the criterion of the place of the theoretical assumptions in the comparison. In the illustrative type of comparison, a researcher has a ready theory and he/she uses the cases under comparison to determine the range of application of the theory. The analytical strategy hinges on the assumption that the comparison itself leads to a formulation of a theory comprised of the cases under comparison.

Theda Skocpol and Margaret Somers offered an alternative classification of the comparative method differentiating the following types of comparative history: parallel, contrast-oriented and macro-causal. According to Skocpol and Somers, the parallel comparative history:

serves as an ancillary mode of theoretical demonstration. Historical instances are juxtaposed to demonstrate that the theoretical arguments apply convincingly to multiple cases that ought to fit if the theory in question is indeed valid. Cases are selected to cover all possibilities, or to represent a range of sub-types or points on continua. The point of the comparison is to assert a similarity among the cases – similarity, that is, in terms of the common applicability of the overall theoretical arguments.152

It is characteristic for the above-described comparative method “to elaborate theoretical models and hypotheses before turning to historical case illustrations.”153 For this reason, the parallel method is similar to the illustrative method from Bonnell’s classification.

The second type of comparative method consists in searching for contrasts in the cases under comparison. The purpose of this strategy is to: “bring out the unique features of each particular case included in their discussions, and to show how these unique features affect the working-out of putatively general social processes.”154

Unlike in the parallel method, the researchers employing the contrast-oriented comparative method “aim to place historical limits on overly generalized theories, but they do not aspire to generate new explanatory generalization through comparative historical analysis.”155

Finally, Skocpol and Somers differentiate the macro-causal comparative strategy that consists in a combination of the two approaches: parallel and contrast-oriented. On the one hand, the scientists implementing this method ←108 | 109→“can try to establish that several cases having in common the phenomenon to be explained also have in common the hypothesized causal factors, although the cases vary in other ways that might have seemed causally relevant.”156

At the same time, however, the scientists implementing the macro-causal comparative analysis can “contrast cases in which the phenomenon to be explained and the hypothesized causes are present to other (‘negative’) cases in which the phenomenon and the causes are both absent, although they are as similar as possible to the ‘positive’ cases in other respects.”157

Macro-causal analysis was fully applied in Skocpol book States and Social Revolutions. In methodological introduction to this book Skocpol stressed that: “Comparative historical analysis is not substitute for theory. Indeed, it can be applied only with the indispensable aid of theoretical concepts and hypotheses.”158 However, in the meta-methodological discussion over this book Skocpol argued that:

the causal arguments positively invoked in States and Social Revolutions are not derived from a pre-existing theory of revolution, this is very true – and the great advantage of the book lies precisely in this fact! How are we ever to arrive at new theoretical insights if we do not let historical patterns speak to us, rather than always viewing them through the blinders, or the heavily tinted lenses, of pre-existing theories?159

Skocpol admits in this paper that certain elements of theoretical reasoning are indispensable in the comparative method which is creative synthesis of deduction and induction. However, the relations between these to elements of comparative research are unclear. In order to clarify these relationships, I would like to explicate three types of comparative analysis: parallel contrast-oriented and macro-causal in the conceptual apparatus of the idealizational theory of science.

Let us suppose that a researcher wants to explain why magnitude F defined on two objects, O1 and O2, adopted value n. Before the researcher chooses a comparative strategy he/she preliminarily delineates the object of the search. Based on the assumed ontological perspective, in the first stage of constructing a theory, the ←109 | 110→researcher determines what factors influence the studied magnitude F and what factors have no impact on it. In the second stage of the construction of a theory the researcher delineates, based on assumed theoretical perspective, what types of factors can be the principal factors for the studied phenomenon. After a pool of the principal factors has been determined, the researchers states a hypothesis about whether magnitude F defined on two objects belongs to one or to two F-genera, i.e. if it is subject to the influence of one or of two different principal factors.

Let us illustrate it in a more detailed fashion. Set U of all objects with the magnitude F makes the universe of a given magnitude. In this universe, one may single out certain subsets ZA, . . ., ZN. These subsets are named F-species. The sum of F-species possessing this same primary factor forms F-genus, or generic type F of a given magnitude in its defined scope. Thus, F-genera differ among themselves with the respect to the distinguished primary factor, whereas F-species which belong to the given F-kind differ with respect to secondary factors. A given F-genus is then a sum of those F-species, which share the same primary factor.

If the researcher concludes that magnitude F defined on two objects, O1 and O2, belongs to two separate F-genera, then the contrast-oriented comparative method will be used. If the researcher concludes that it belongs to one F-genus, then the parallel comparative method will be used.

Let us take a closer look. The scientist has determined a pool of principal factors for the magnitude F on the two objects O1 and O2. These include: A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, J. Second, he/she has established that the magnitude F on the two objects O1 and O2 belongs to two separate F-genera and he/she has decided to implement the contrast-oriented comparative method. The pool of principal factors present in the essential structure of the magnitude F on the object O1 comprises of: A, B, C, D, E, G, and the pool of principal factors present in the essential structure of the magnitude F ascertained on the object O2 includes the following factors: A, B, C, H, I, J.

O1: A, B, C, D, E, G

O2: A, B, C, H, I, J

Factors A, B and C will be termed common factors for the magnitude F defined on both objects, and factors D, E, G and H, I, J are particular factors for the magnitude F. On the force of the made earlier decisions, every common factor is a secondary factor for the magnitude F. The adopted research hypothesis, hence, makes the researcher to search for principal factors for the magnitude F among the particular factors. In the case presented above, the possible principal factors for the magnitude F on the object O1 can be factors D, E or G, and on the object O2 – factors H, I or J. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that not every ←110 | 111→particular factor can be a principal factor for the magnitude F established on a given object. Such factors may include both secondary factors for the magnitude F (that are principal factors for the magnitude F in another scope of the magnitude) and principal factors for the magnitude F in the studied range. All the compared determinants belong to a pool of principal factors distinguished with the theoretical assumptions adopted by the researcher.

This is, then, the cognitive effectiveness of the contrast-oriented method in light of the offered explication. It allows us to narrow down of the pool of factors that includes the principal factors. The method turns out to be a useful heuristic tool in the second stage of constructing the theory after the initial division of factors into essential and inessential, and when we accept a particular theoretical perspective determining what type of factors are to be principal ones. On account of the comparative method, we can differentiate from the pool of principal factors, the factors principal in the given scope of the magnitude F.

If the researcher decides that the magnitude F ascertained on the two objects O1 and O2 belongs to two F-species creating one F-genus, he/she begins to search for one principal factor, and not for two separate principal factors. He/she then implements a parallel comparative strategy. There are two sets of factors influencing the magnitude F on the two objects:

O1: A, B, C, D, E, G

O2: A, B, C, H, I, J

On the force of the adopted theoretical assumptions, a researcher searchers for a principal factor among the factors common for the magnitude F on both objects. In the example under analysis, they include factors A, B and C. Differently, the particular factors could be the secondary determinants for the magnitude F in the range under investigation (however, they are the principal factors in other ranges and, hence, belong to a pool of principal factors distinguished with theoretical assumptions). The factors influencing the magnitude F on the object O1 include: D, E and G, and the factors influencing the magnitude F on the object O2 include: H, I and J.

Once more, a parallel comparative analysis narrows down only the pool of factors where principal factors “hide” in a particular range of the magnitude F. The adopted theory guides further hierarchy of factors and formulation of dependencies between the magnitude F and the influencing principal factors.

Afterwards, the researcher implements a macro-causal comparative method that is a combination of the parallel and the contrast-oriented method in order to further narrow down the pool of factors that could include the principal factors. In the first stage, he/she assumes that the magnitude F ascertained on the two ←111 | 112→objects O1 and O2 belongs to the same F-genus. He/she implements the parallel comparative method to uncover the principal factor:

O1: A, B, C, D, E, G

O2: A, B, C, H, I, J

The implementation of the parallel comparative method indicates that the principal factor “hides” within factors A, B or C. In order to further narrow down the pool of factors, the scientist implements the contrast-oriented comparative method. He/she compares the essential structure of the magnitude F ascertained on the objects O1 and O2 with the essential structure of the magnitude F on the object O3. The process of contrasting has to meet the following two conditions:

the magnitude F on the object O3 has to adopt a value other than value n adopted by the magnitude F on the two objects O1 and O2;

the magnitude F on the object O3 has to have an essential structure adequately close to the magnitude F ascertained on the two objects O1 and O2.

This can be symbolically demonstrated in the following way:

O1: A, B, C, D, E, G

O2: A, B, C, H, I, J

O3: C, D, E, G, I, J

Factors A, B and C are the common factors for the magnitude F on the two objects O1 and O2. Therefore, the principal factor(s) should be searched from among them. A test case analysis: F on the object O3 adopts a different value than the value n (“negative case”) despite a “close similarity” of the essential structure of F ascertained on the object O3 to the essential structure of F on the objects O1 and O2. In the essential structure of the “negative case” there is a factor C that was predominantly established as principal and a number of secondary factors (E, G, I, J). However, two other factors considered as principal: A and B are not present. As the magnitude F adopted a value other than the value n, we can assume that the absence of A and B was decisive in this case.

The scientist continues the comparison with the aim to determine which of the two factors, A or B, is the principal factor. He/she is searching for another control case: the magnitude F ascertained on the object O4 and adopting the value m other than the value n, but having a adequately similar essential structure to the magnitude F on the previously analyzed objects. Symbolically, this can be demonstrated in the following way:

O1: A, B, C, D, E, G

O2: A, B, C, H, I, J

←112 | 113→

O3: C, D, E, G, I, J

O4: B, D, E, G, H, J

In the essential structure of the second “negative case” the factor B is determined as principal. However, other principal factors, A and C, are absent. As in the first control case the factors A and B were absent from the essential structure of the magnitude F, and now A and C are absent, we can assume that the factor A is the factor most influential for the magnitude F adopting value n on the objects O1 and O2. If the factor A was present in the essential structure of the magnitude F, it has adopted the value n; if the factor A was absent, the magnitude F has adopted an intensity other than n.

It appears that the macro-causal comparative method is more effective than the other two methods due to the fact that it is capable of additionally narrowing down the pool of factors that “hide” the principal factors of the phenomenon under investigation.

However, the comparative method does not consist in the implementation of pure induction, but it becomes useful only when the researcher adopts a particular ontological perspective, which allows him/her to differentiate between the factors exerting impact on the studied phenomenon from those that do not exert impact, and a particular theoretical perspective allowing him/her to determine the type of sought principal factors. If the scientist assumes that the cases under research belong to different types, he/she implements a contrast-oriented method and searches for the principal determinants among particular factors present in the essential structures of the cases under comparison. If the researcher assumes that the cases under comparison belong to the same type, he/she implements a parallel method and searches for the principal factors among the common factors present in the essential structures of cases under comparison. To conclude: a comparative method proves useful, when the scientist guided by the previously adopted ontological and theoretical assumptions, knows a priori what he/she is comparing and why.

However, according to the above-presented approach, the effectiveness of the comparative method depends on a number of hidden theoretical assumptions that are seldom met or not met in the social and historical sciences.

First, the historical sciences very rarely offer separate research cases that differ from each other by the lack of only one of the factors under investigation. Second, a simplified assumption is adopted that the influence of the factors exerted on the magnitude under study depends on the intensity adopted by the determining factors. Third, an assumption is adopted that the acting factors do not interact with each other.160 Finally, an assumption is adopted that the cases under analysis ←113 | 114→are independent from each other.161 The above-listed circumstances are usually rarely met in the historical sciences, and they limit the range of implementation of the comparative method or influence its reliability.

7 The Method of Modeling in the Economic History

7.1 Classification of Economic Models

The methods of idealization and gradual concretization have proved useful in the historical sciences predominantly in the domain of the economic history. The method of modeling is a research tool principally implemented by historians associated with the Marxian tradition and the paradigm of the New Economic History.162 The economic models developed by the economic historians can be ←114 | 115→classified with reference to a number of aspects. Jerzy Topolski, for instance, divides the economic models according to their methodological status into models comprehended from an instrumental or a realistic perspective. According to Topolski, in a methodological sense, a model is:

a simplified image of a given fragment of the reality (a set of statements concerning it) that facilitates the “capturing” of the essential features of the fragment, by disregarding a large or small number of secondary factors that distort the manifestation of the “essential” features (and tendencies). As can be easily seen, this is a realistic interpretation of a model (implemented e.g. by Marx in Capital) perceived as an (isomorphic) “image” of the reality, in contrast to a model comprehended in an instrumental way, uniquely as a research tool that is rejected after completing a task (like Weber’s ideal types). Therefore, a model in a realistic interpretation has an objective reference and an instrumental interpretation does not include such reference, or the reference is deformed.163

Topolski also offers an alternative classification. He divides the models present in the historical works into static and dynamic with reference to the method of conceptualization of the historical reality under investigation. A static model or a model comprehended in a narrower sense, according to Topolski’s terminology, comprises a set of statements describing a historical reality stripped of secondary features and phenomena. In such case, a procedure of simplification of the reality is also a model. A dynamic model consists in an idealization of the fragment of reality under study and in an analysis of the changes that the – accurately simplified – phenomena are subject to.

The present demonstration of the implementation of the method of modeling in the economic history will employ yet another classification of the economic models. Models can be divided into general, local and global with reference to the range of the phenomena under investigation. The general models consider the functioning of particular social units, such as a feudal system. Evsey D. Domar’s explanation of the genesis of the exacerbated serfdom in Eastern Europe and Witold Kula’s theory of the feudal system are examples of such a model.

Differently, local models aim to explain more particular phenomena by adopting a general theory. The economic model of the Greater Poland Region in the 18th century developed by Jerzy Topolski – which adopts Witold Kula’s ←115 | 116→theory of the feudal system to explain the regional distinctiveness of this part of Poland – is an example of such a model.

We could also differentiate global models that explain the phenomena under investigation in an international context. The model of intercontinental commerce constructed by Frédéric Mauro will serve as an example of this type of model in the present book.

The idealizational theory includes realistic assumptions, idealizing assumptions, statements and particular between-model correlations. Realistic assumptions determine the range of application of a given theory. Idealizing assumptions disregard a number of factors perceived as less essential. Afterwards, a scientist derives from the above-mentioned assumptions a number of statements that describe the dependencies of the phenomena under study from the factors perceived as principal. In the subsequent conceptualizations, the assumptions are removed and the initial statements are corrected. The relations of concretization or of approximation occur between the separate models of a given theory. This can be demonstrated in the following way:

In the following part of this chapter, I will reconstruct particular examples of models in line with the above-presented structure of the idealizational theory.

←116 | 117→

7.2 Evsey Domar’s Theory of the Rise of Exacerbated Serfdom

Evsey D. Domar developed a model explaining the presence of exacerbated serfdom in Eastern Europe. He put forward a theory with realistic assumptions referring to 16th-century Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The basic model is founded on eight simplifying assumptions164:

(a1) the only production factors are work and land (the influence of capital, management methods and other factors is disregarded);

(a2) the quality of soil and the localization of the agricultural land does not vary;

(a3) the level of income is not influenced by the labor force hired to cultivate the land;

(a4) the productivity of the hired labor force does not vary;

(a5) the competition between employers causes an increase of salary of hired labor force to a level when the cultivation of land does not bring any income;

(a6) the productivity of labor force is constant;

(a7) a political authority does not interfere with free trade of land;

(a8) a political authority does not interfere with free labor market.

In this set of simplifying assumptions, the idealizing assumptions are: (a1–5), the stabilizing assumptions: (a6) and the quasi-idealizing assumptions: (a7–8).

The circumstances of the model I based on the idealizing assumptions (a1–8) precludes the evolution of the economic classes, because

[i];n the absence of specific governmental action […] the country will consist of family-size farms because hired labor, in any form, will be either unavailable or unprofitable: the wage of a hired man or the income of a tenant will have to be at least equal to what he can make on his own farm.165

Therefore, in the highly idealized circumstances of the first model, a class of proprietors does not develop. A social structure of such society comprises of a political authority and a free peasantry. It does not comprise of economic classes.

As the first model does not adhere to the empirical reality, Domar gradually removes the initially adopted simplifying assumptions. First, he removes the assumptions a1 and a2. He investigates the influence of capital (accountancy costs, food, grain, livestock, etc.) and the influence of management on the process of administration, and assumes that quality and location of the agricultural ←117 | 118→land varies. The process of class diversification can begin in the circumstances more adhere to reality, as the “[o];wners of capital, of superior skill and of better-than-average land will now be able to pay hired man his due (or to use a tenant) and still obtain a surplus.”166

However, in a situation when authorities refrain from interfering into the process of administration, the advantage of the nonworking class of proprietors developed under such circumstances is negligible, as “so long as agricultural skills can be easily acquired, the amount of capital for starting a farm is small, and the per capita income is relatively high (because of the ample supply of land) a good worker should be able to save or borrow and start on his own in time.”167

In the circumstances of the second model, the economic structure of the rural areas changes insignificantly, since “[m];ost of the farms will still be more or less family-size, with an estate using hired labor (tenants) here and there in areas of unusually good (in fertility and/or location) land, or specializing in activities requiring higher-than-average capital intensity, or skilful management.”168

As a result, in the second model that meets the assumptions (a3.8), develops a class of proprietors, however, this social category does not have an advantage in the socio-economic structure. In the third model, Domar removes the assumption a7 that authorities do not interfere with the free trade of land: “Suppose now that the government decides to create, or at least to facilitate the creation, of a non-working class of agricultural proprietors.”169

In consequence of the interference of a political authority into the economic life, the nonworking class of proprietors is granted an exclusive right of ownership of land. For now, the government intervenes into the free trade of land but not into the free labor market. The intervention of a political authority strengthens the social position of the class of proprietors. Nonetheless, the situation of proprietors slightly improves. As Domar observes, in the circumstances of shortage of workforce, the competition between proprietors causes an increase in salary of the paid labor to the level when only a small producer surplus is achieved.

The fourth model brings a real change in the relations between economic classes, when political authorities intervene into the labor market. In this model, the government acts in the interest of proprietors and forbids paid labor to ←118 | 119→change the place of residence and work. Only then “with labor tied to land or to the owner, competition among employers ceases. Now the employer can derive a rent, not from his land, but from his peasants by appropriating all or most of their income above some subsistence level.”170

Exacerbated serfdom occurs in consequence of the deficiency of workforce and the interference of a political authority supporting the nonworking class of proprietors. Hence, this social layer develops in reaction to the monopolization of the trade of land or labor market. Only now the thesis of the first model becomes inapplicable – in the society under investigation, there develops a class of proprietors that gains a social advantage in the socio-economic structure. Domar concludes his study with a statement that any two out of the three elements of the economic structure – the free trade of land, the free labor market and the nonworking class of proprietors – can coexist, but not three, as the complete monopolization of the economic life can take place on behalf of a political authority that supports selected social groups to the detriment of other.

Domar approximates the theses of the fourth model to the historical reality of Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In my reconstruction, I will demonstrate an approximation of a model implemented with reference to Russia in more detailed way. Domar rests on Vasily Kluchevsky’s book A History of Russia and argues that in the 16th-century Russia, “[t];he scarce factor of production was not land but labor. Hence it was the ownership of peasants and not of land that could yield an income.”171

The author claims that until 1550 Russian peasants had enjoyed personal freedom and the country was populated enough population not to be externally endangered. However, in the century that followed, wars caused depopulation. Depopulation and the interference of the state that supported the class of landed gentry allowed for an introduction of exacerbated serfdom: “Thus both ingredients for the evolution of serfdom – a high land/labor ratio and the government’s determination to create a large class of servitors – were present (in Russia).”172

The secondary factors disregarded in the modeling investigation that influenced the evolution of the second serfdom in Russia included: the decay of boyars who competed with the landed gentry over peasantry, the influence of the state that opposed the peasant movements, concerned about the regular ←119 | 120→collection of taxes, and the presence of the peasant communities that opposed the migration of workforce.

Domar also discusses a case contradicting the thesis of the model prima facie. In Western Europe of the mid-14th century, a plague caused a significant depopulation.173 He ponders on why it did not lead to a secondary exacerbation of serfdom. Domar explains the situation with secondary factors omitted by him in the developed models of the theory. The plague did affect all proprietors equally. As a result, they did not unite. Some of them wanted to limit the freedom of the peasants, and others did not. Additionally, the nature of production – the wool industry requiring qualified workforce – resulted in the fact that serfdom was an ineffective system. The above-mentioned two factors outweighed the tendency to introduce exacerbated serfdom in the circumstances of the deficiency of workforce in Western Europe.

Let us now investigate which type of the idealizational theory is applicable to Domar’s model. A certain peculiarity of this theory is the simultaneous removal of two simplifying assumptions and the simultaneous introduction of a concretized model of two secondary factors (i.e. a transfer from model I to model II). Additionally, the theory under study has a linear structure – every new factor is introduced into the latest concretized version of the model. The structure of the theory can be demonstrated in the following way:

M 8M 6M 5M 4 ⇒ AM

Key: Mi the next model of the theory with the index indicating the number of simplifying assumptions; AM – approximation of the model; → – relation of concretization; => – relation of approximation.

7.3 Witold Kula’s Theory of the Feudal System in Poland

Witold Kula’s An Economic Theory of the Feudal System is a classic Polish historiographic opus that applies the method of modeling to historical analysis. Kula’s theory is set to explain the functioning of a manorial-serf system in Poland between the 16th and the 18th centuries. By defining the range of validity of his theory is the above way, Kula ponders on the application of its statements to the borderland territories, such as Pomerania – the only region where peasants had direct contact with the global market, and Ukraine – the region almost completely cut off from contact with foreign markets, and the borderline ranges: the 1st half of the 16th century and the 2nd half of the 18th century. Kula ←120 | 121→also poses the question about the range of application of the statements of his theory to other historical societies – i.e. Hungary and Russia – that meet the simplified assumptions that constitute the foundation of his theory of feudal system.

Kula develops a basic model of feudal system based on the following quasi-idealizing assumptions, in order to investigate the mechanisms of functioning of the Polish feudal economy:

(1) the overwhelming dominance of agriculture in the country’s economy; (2) the fact that land is not a commodity, primarily because only the nobility can own it, but also because the rate of interest on loans is higher than the yield from landed property; (3) the division of all the forces of agricultural production solely between the village and the lord’s demesne; (4) the existence of actual institutional barriers which limit social and geographical mobility, above all for peasants (serfdom); (5) the obligation on all peasants to pay most of their rent in the form of labor power (corvée); (6) the fact that industrial and artisan activities are carried out within the confines of the large landed estates or the guilds; (7) the absence of juridical restrictions on the liberty of the nobility in the economic area; (8) a strong tendency among the nobility towards consumption luxury products (a tendency conditioned by the characteristics of the socio-economic system); (9) the existence, not far from Poland, of economically more advanced countries at a distance accessible by the means of transportation; (10) the absence of all state intervention in economic life (even in form of protectionist custom duties).174

Kula implicitly adopts two more assumptions that will be removed in the course of further analysis:

(a11) fluctuation of harvest does not influence the economic regularities;

(a12) the influence of changes of terms of trade are not taken into consideration.

Kula formulates statements concerning the maintenance of the manorial estate, a peasant farm and a craftsman workshop organized in a guild, based on the above-listed assumptions. A manorial-serf system is a dual sector economy: it includes a market sector and a natural economy. This significantly influences a calculation of the producer that notably varies from a calculation conducted by a capitalist who operates in the circumstances of a free market, because in the feudal economy:

(1) the producer makes his calculations according to criteria in kind, 2) market prices do not serve as a yardstick for elements that enter into production (because in general the prices inflate their value), nor for what is produced (3) the producer generally does not react to the incentives of market (an increase or decrease in prices).175

←121 | 122→

According to a calculation conducted by a typical manor owner, the profit is not the difference between income received from selling and the production costs calculated at market prices. A typical nobleman, who has at his command a “free” workforce of peasants under serfdom, limits the amount of purchase and fabricates in his own manorial estate all ingredients required for production or objects of consumption. This way, he profits from selling an arbitrary amount of grain for an arbitrary price, and can allocate this profit for the purchase of luxury goods. According to Kula, the amount of the sale of grain did not depend on price, but on the fluctuation of the level of harvest. Hence, a feudal farm was independent from economic fluctuations. In the circumstances of a manorial-serf economy,

The demesne carries out essentially an extensive form of farming. The harvest that it brings in is a function of the surface area under cultivation. If the surface area of the land owned by the lord was greater than the area cultivated by the serfs, a portion of the land remained uncultivated since the extensiveness of the farming depended on the number of serfs.176

Kula distinguishes two opposite social tendencies present in a manorial-serf system comprehended in the above way. The first is the tendency of the manorial estate to reduce the size of the peasant farm below the level of “a consumption-reproductive parcel” – a parcel covering an area sufficient for simple reproduction and sustaining livestock. Restricting the area of peasant farms lead to cutting off contact between peasants and the market.

The limit of exploitation of peasantry was, in Kula’s terms, “a physiological limit” – the amount of labor that could have been provided by the peasantry without ruining it. However, in practice, the physiological limit was never reached, as the exploitation of peasantry would first meet a “social limit.” The latter was an amount of service that could have been obtained from the peasants, in the circumstances of the given level of class opposition and the effectiveness of labor. Kula considers also a “technological limit” consisting in the number of working animals at disposal, because peasants paid quitrent with the use of own livestock. It appears that this third limit determined the upper limit of agricultural production of the country.

Another counter tendency was the aspiration of the peasant farms to maintain contact with the market by all means. When a manorial estate did not succeed in cutting the peasant farm off from the trade contacts with a town, it adapted to the situation and attempted to extract money from the country by using the ←122 | 123→propination laws – compulsory purchase of alcohol and other everyday-use products (salt) by peasants. This situation resulted in a growing self-sufficiency and economic isolation of vast land properties. This, in turn, reinforced the trend to naturalize goods because:

Every demesne attempted not to purchase the indispensable things, but instead to produce them from their own resources, without spending money. […] Production was to maintain itself on its own, and the basic elements consumed by the owner’s family and his force equally so. All the liquid money derived from the sale of surplus production – which was to be as great as possible – was to be set aside for the purchase of luxury gods.177

Kula describes it as a tendency toward maximal naturalization intended at maximal commoditization.

A peasant farm that attempted to maintain contact with the market at all means was emerged into the circumstances of a natural economy even more. This tendency was contrasted with the tendency of a manorial estate to reduce the economic independency of peasantry. In the circumstances of a manorial-serf system, peasants were able to increase production for the market by illegally expanding the area of the cultivated land, conducting more intense cultivation, malnutrition of cattle serving the manor, directing the surplus of the workforce of a peasant farm to gardening, husbandry of porcine animals and poultry, engaging in craft and uttermost limitation of consumption.

Another factor forcing peasants to establish at least limited contact with the market was the social-political system that pressured them to pay taxes and other cash benefits and lead to a phenomenon of the “obligation to commercialize:”

The peasant is compelled to sell in order to obtain the money he needs to meet these financial obligations and not lose his plot. His reaction to the incentives of market is diametrically opposed to what bourgeois economic science would expect: if prices go up, he sells less, and if they go down he has to sell more. The fiscal burdens to which he is subject are basically fixed; therefore the amount sold (often at the expense of what is available for his own personal consumption) is inversely proportional to the price level. It often happens that a high level of prices brings about a relative return to “natural production” of such plots and vice versa.178

Apart from analyzing the peasant and manor sector of the economy, Kula also analyses the economic behavior of a craft workshop organized in a guild. A typical craftsman calculates like a monopolist operating on a narrow market. As an ←123 | 124→organization of producers, a craft guild dictated the prices and the production size. The activity of a craft corporation was directed at

[a];ttempt to set a “monopoly price,” i.e. to limit the quantity of goods produced and to raise the price so as to obtain the maximum overall income. The limit to which the price could be raised was established the level of actual demand. The equitable distribution of profits brought about by the market monopoly that was maintained by the guilds was to be guaranteed by the regulation which prevented competition.179

The entire system of guild regulations was set so that production would not exceed consumption. Only then, a “market of sellers” was in force and a guild could fully benefit from its monopolistic position.

In the model II, Kula reduces the assumption (a11) eliminating the influence of the fluctuation of harvest on the behavior of the economic subjects. Hence, this model examines the influence of agricultural failure and harvest. It allows investigating the behavior of economic entities in a short-term perspective. Harvest would cause a decrease in prices of agricultural products and failed harvest would cause an increase. The years of good crop reinforced the tendency expressed by the manorial estate to reduce peasant parcels to the size of consumption-reproductive parcels. This tendency was caused by a “nonmarket” response to the market stimuli. The increase of supply of grain caused a decrease of its price. In order to maintain income on a constant level, a manor owner had to sell more grain for a lower price. The only way to increase production, under the circumstances of a technological stagnation, was to increase the area of cultivated land. In consequence, according to the internal logic of the model, an extensive increase of production of a manorial estate was achieved by assuming the peasant land or by settlement. In the years of failed harvest the tendency was opposite. In the years of failed harvest the price of gain would increase and supply would decrease, therefore, a manor owner, in order to increase profit was forced to reduce the production costs, hence, produce as many goods as possible by himself. This resulted in increased burdening of peasants and the naturalization of economy.

Subsequently, Kula moves on to discuss the influence of harvest fluctuation on peasant farms. During the so-called “good years,” in order to maintain a constant level of income, peasants had to sell more grain. On the one hand, the years of failed harvest would cause an intensification of trade contacts of a peasant farm but, on the other hand, would reinforce the tendency of the manorial estate to reduce the farmland. During the “lean years,” in order to maintain ←124 | 125→the same level of income as in the previous years, peasants would sell less grain. During the bad years, after selling the necessary amount of grain and acquiring profit sufficient to pay taxes and satisfy their consumption needs, peasants would transfer the costs of maintenance of their farm onto the manorial estate – i.e. they would cease taking care of draught animals used to pay quitrent (quitrent in livestock). During the years of failed harvest the intensity of trade contacts of peasants decreased but, simultaneously, the tendency to reduce the area of peasant farms would disappear.

In the further part of his study Kula discusses the influence of harvest fluctuation on craft production. A typical craft workshop benefited from harvest and low prices of grain because:

1) the price of raw materials goes down; 2) the cost of labor goes down (since an important part of the remuneration paid to auxiliary workers, journeymen, and apprentices was paid in kind); 3) actual overall demand increases, making possible the full utilization of the shops’ production capacity; 4) demand increases faster than supply, making possible the actual operation of a “seller’s market.”180

When the effective demand of people increased during harvest, the guild system counteracted against the decrease of prices on craft products. During the period of decreased effective demand caused by failed harvest and increased grain prices, the guild corporations counteracted against the decrease of prices on craft products by reducing the production size and incorporating the increased price of labor, the price of materials and the costs of supporting the master into the price of craft products. Afterwards, Kula approximates the above statements to the empirical reality. The object of approximation is the statement concerning the dependency between the fluctuation in harvest and the fluctuation in prices of agricultural products. Kula calculates grain prices and concludes: “in the basis of Polish source materials, it appears that such dependent relationship exists, but only to a limited extent.”181 This is influenced by the selected method of calculation that blurs the correlation: the calculation is based on a calendar year, not on a harvest year, and the calculation is presented in nominal prices, not in the real prices.182 Additionally, the second model has excluded the following factors: “the effect of the export price, as well as export itself – not to mention the effect of phenomena which took place on the world market.”183

←125 | 126→

In model III, Kula removes the assumption (a12) on the unchanging terms of trade and investigates a manorial-serf system in the long-term perspective. Kula characterizes it in the following way for the period under study:

(1) an increase in the price of products exported by the nobleman, primarily grains and particularly wheat; a very rapid increase at first (sixteenth century), then slower (from about 1660), and then after a brief decline at the end of the seventeenth century, a slow but virtually constant increase for all eighteenth century;

(2) a relative decline in the price of certain imported goods, due to the fact that the European powers were making better use of their overseas colonies (spice, sugar, etc.);

(3) slighter decline (but also unquestionable) in the price of another category of imported goods, as a result of the progress made in the sphere of technology and the organization of production (textiles, paper, iron, etc.).184

Terms of trade more beneficial to magnates caused an increase of the advantage of this social group over the middle nobility. On account of this, we are able to explain another trend present in a manorial-serf economy – the tendency to accumulate vast possessions. This trend reinforces the processes of neutralization and isolation of large properties of the basic model. Additionally, improved terms of selling grain in Gdańsk facilitated a retraction of magnates and the nobility from the internal market – it became more beneficial to purchase grain from the nobility and peasantry and to export it, instead of supplying the internal market for magnates. A substantial increase of profitability owed to selling grain abroad also sheds light on the reasons behind the stagnation of production – the nobility ceased to introduce technological innovations because they did not cause a significant increase of income, in comparison to the organization of sale of grain. A manorial-serf system, nevertheless successfully burdened peasants with all costs of production. To conclude this part of his study, Kula puts forward the idea that Poland:

Was able to import a greater amount for the same quantity of commodities exported. This is, in appearance, a favourable situation, the opposite of the one in which countries exporting raw materials find themselves today (countries that are generally underdeveloped). In those countries the terms of trade have been worsening for the past century, exacerbating already existing economic difficulties. But here again we have an example, which shows how the economic situation of today’s underdeveloped countries ←126 | 127→is in many ways different from the situation in the preindustrial age, and how economic regularities operated differently then. The shifts in the terms of trade, which were apparently favourable to Poland, in reality undermined Polish economic development, although they brought great economic advantage to a single social stratum. Due to the concurrence of great world-wide changes, the Polish nobility, and particularly the upper nobility, found themselves in the position of rentiers, ‘coupon clipping’ and profiting from the process of economic retrogression in the country.185

Subsequently, Kula conducts an approximation of a number of theses from the third model to empirical reality. He determines a “shopping basket” for a magnate, a nobleman and a peasant, and calculates how the changing terms of trade impacted their purchasing power, in order to judge how the prices of grain on the global market influenced the economic situation of individual social classes. According to him, in the period between 1600 and 1750:

the overall real income – here too caeteris paribus, without taking into account increases in the area held, in returns, in commercialization, etc. – went up from 100 to 200 for the upper nobility, and from 100 to 142 for the lower nobility whereas for the peasantry it went down from 100 to 92.5.186

Kula’s theory of feudal system has a star structure. The most idealized model is based on the assumptions (a1–12). Kula uses it to explain the behavior of a manorial estate of a nobleman, a peasant farm and a craft workshop. Afterwards, Kula waives the assumption (a11) and investigates the influence of fluctuation of harvest on the code of conduct of a manorial estate of a nobleman, a peasant farm and a craftsmanship. Subsequently, the theses of the second model are subjected to approximation. Following that, Kula reinstates the removed assumption (a11) and removes the assumption (a12). In the third model he studies the influence of the changing terms of trade on the economic activity of a manorial estate. Again, the theses of model III are subjected to approximation. Hence, the graphic structure of Kula’s theory of feudal system can be demonstrated in the following way:

AM ⇐ M111 ← M12 → M211 ⇒ AM

Key: Mi – the next model of the theory with an index indicating the number of idealizing assumptions; AM – approximation of the model; → – relation of concretization; – relation of approximation

The star structure of Kula’s theory of feudal system has stirred a lot of criticism. The principal accusation against the theory was that there is no connection ←127 | 128→between the “short-term dynamics” (model II) and the “long-term dynamics” (model III).187 After the publication of An Economic Theory of the Feudal System a number of historians conducted source research of regional markets inspired by the theses of the model of feudal economy.188 The results of these investigations have partially confirmed some of the theses put forward by Kula (the correlation between harvest fluctuation and price of grain) and contradicted others (the thesis on reduction of the area of peasant plots).

7.4 Jerzy Topolski’s Model of Economy of Greater Poland

Jerzy Topolski’s economic model of Greater Poland is an example of a local model.189 Topolski adopted Kula’s economic theory of the feudal system as a general concept. The models developed by Topolski and Kula are linked with a relation of territorial-chronological specification because, according to Topolski, some of Kula’s assumptions were not met on the territory of Greater Poland in the 2nd half of the 18th century. Therefore, the developmental regularities established by Kula with relation to Polish economy, that cannot be applied to the 18th-century Greater Poland have to be modified substantially. Hence, the relation of specification determines the range of validity of Topolski’s model – Greater Poland in the 2nd half of the 18th century.

Most importantly, Kula’s assumption (a1) on the “the overwhelming dominance of agriculture in the country’s economy” cannot be applied to Greater Poland because in the 2nd half of the 18th century the region was experiencing an intensive process of urbanization. Hence, as argued by Topolski,

it would be more appropriate to speak of an agricultural-industrial structure of the region with reference to Greater Poland. Before the second partition, the percentage of population living in towns was around 28 % in Greater Poland, almost half of which lived in towns with a population of more than 2,500. Unlike towns in other regions of Poland, towns in Greater Poland were not so heavily agrarian in nature. Only 16 % of ←128 | 129→the overall population of Greater Poland’s towns lived in agriculture, whereas the population involved in commerce and crafts accounted for ca. 70 %.190

Moreover, the assumption (a5) from the theory of feudalism stating that “the obligation of all peasants to pay most of their rent in the form of labor power (corvee)” cannot be applied to Greater Poland because, as argued by Topolski, cash pension constituted a large contribution in the structure of peasant services. Topolski also removed the simplifying assumption (a9) on the “the existence, not far from Poland, of economically more advanced countries at a distance accessible by the means of transportation.” In the 2nd half of the 18th century, Greater Poland was neighboring Brandenburg and Pomerania, from which it was more economically developed – i.e. it had a positive trade balance. In consequence, the manorial production in this region was principally dedicated to the internal market, in contrast to Kula’s model where it was dedicated to the external market.

The influence of the above-listed factors, disregarded by Kula in his model of the theory of Polish feudalism, caused a significant modification of the developmental regularities characteristic for the Polish economy in Greater Poland.

According the model put forward by Kula, the manorial estate refrained from investment almost completely, due to the fact that the costs of production were carried by the peasant economy functioning under the natural economy. As a result, every single income from selling grain abroad brought profit. The nobility in Greater Poland of the 18th century had different rules of economic proceeding, due to “a propensity to invest, that is, to increase the stock of the means of production in order to boost income, a trend which was alien by and large alien to the classical model.”191

The direction of these investments depended on the regional specificity of Greater Poland, hence, the factors omitted by Kula, such as: substantial influence of the urban sector on the economy, absence of economically dominant countries and a relatively large contribution of rent into the general structure of peasant services. In consequence, the economic actions of the nobility resulted the following situation:

Both among the nobility and the peasants there emerged a type of mentality which may be described as contractual and which was alien to traditional feudalism. It resulted from the increasing number of arrangements between the landlord and the peasant that were based on contracts. This was true both for entire villages and for individual peasants (e.g. for the categories of tenants, contract workers, etc.).192

←129 | 130→

Afterwards, Topolski approximates the statements of the local model to the economic reality of Greater Poland. In the 18th century, the investment activity of the nobility in the region was manifested by the development of non-grain production, in the organization of settlement actions and in establishing a number of villages and little towns.

Under the non-grain production, the nobility of Greater Poland developed livestock breeding, fishing economy, exploitation of forests, gardening and production of alcoholic drinks. Sheep breeding was taking the principal place among animal husbandry. Prior to the third partition of Poland, in the years 1780–1790, there were around 6.5 million sheep in Poland – 1.3–1.4 million in Greater Poland. Following from this, 20 % of sheep population that provided 650,000 kg of wool was located on the 4 % of Polish territory. The noble manorial estates owned 2/3 of the total sheep population.

The growth of sheep breeding depended from the demand of the textile industry that developed in 60 % of towns in Greater Poland.193 The industry supported around 12 % of population of the region. The wool from Greater Poland was also sold to the neighboring Silesian-Czech-Moravian textile center.

Another manifestation of the investment activities of the nobility was the settlement development. A colonization movement thrived in the region in the 18th century:

In total, during the 18th century around 800 new villages were settled, as a result of which the area of agricultural land increased by 140,000 hectares. The increase in the area under cultivation is estimated at 20 % (after the havoc wreaked by the Great Northern War was offset). This kind of expansion of agricultural land cannot be found in other regions of the country.194

The number of rural settlements was growing and new towns were settled – there were around 25 new towns established in the 18th century, mostly with a progressing textile production.

On the force of the conclusions presented by Jan Rutkowski, Topolski approximates the second thesis of the model to the empirical material – the spread of contractual relations between the manorial estate and the rural areas. The thesis is confirmed by a substantial percentage of quitrent peasants in Greater Poland – around 30 %, and a large percentage of landless peasants – 25 %, while the percentage of landless peasants in Mazovia and Podlachia was at 9 %, in Lesser Poland at 18 %, and on the Russian territories – 10 %.

←130 | 131→

A relation of chronological-territorial specification, hence, links Kula’s general model to Topolski’s local model. Topolski reduces a number of simplifying assumptions, determines the range of introduced factors and introduces amendments to the statements formulated by Kula. Subsequently, he approximates the modified statements to the historical reality. The structure of the relation linking the models can be graphically demonstrated in the following way:

M12 → M9 ⇒ AM

Key: Mi – the next model of the theory with an index indicating the number of idealizing assumptions; → – relation of territorial-chronological specification; ⇒ – relation of approximation; AM – approximation of the model.

7.5 Frédéric Mauro’s Theory of Intercontinental Trade

A global model can be discussed based on the model of intercontinental trade developed by Frédéric Mauro who investigates an intercontinental trade exchange during the period of commercial capitalism. Mauro determines realistic assumptions while assuming that the statements of his model are valid from the period of Renaissance until the Industrial Revolution, hence, for the period between 1500 and 1800. The model is based on the following simplifying assumptions:

(a1) production control and the level of acquired profit is in the hands of the class of merchants, hence, the influence of the early-capitalistic bourgeoisie is omitted;

Mauro explains his assumptions in the following way:

In reality this pure system is confused with others; the medieval system based on the domain in the country and on artisanship in the towns, and also industrial capitalism in as much as this commercial capitalism has already experienced industrial pre-revolutions. But the important thing is that the dominant, dynamic, progressive system should be that of commercial capitalism. This predominance, combined with mercantilist policies, produces economic régimes in which international trade is extremely important.195

(a2) the influence of intra-European and intra-continental trade is omitted;

(a3) the influence of competition between the European countries is omitted;

←131 | 132→

(a4) continents are treated as entireties that purchase and sell products;

(a5) the intercontinental market is a buyer’s market;

(a6) all products have the same quality;

(a7) the technological level of the means of transport (ships) is constant.

The above overview of simplifying assumptions includes: quasi-idealizing assumptions (a1, a5, a6,), aggregating assumptions (a2, a3, a4,) and stabilizing assumptions (a7).

Mauro distinguishes two continents located in the moderate zone: Europe and North America, and three continents located in the tropical zone: Africa, South America, and Asia. He studies the circulation of selected goods in the intercontinental trade. North America predominantly provided wool, cattle, wheat, and furs; Africa – workforce; South America produced tropical goods for the mass market; Asia – root vegetables and craft products; Europe specialized in production of industrial goods, means of transportation and possessed capital, knowledge and skills.

Based on the adopted assumptions, Mauro puts forward a thesis on the complementariness of production goods exchanged between continents. However, the presence of intercontinental competition undermined the complementariness. Mauro distinguishes four basic types of competition between:

alternate products (e.g. between pastel dye and indigo dye);

the same products originating from different zones in one climate zone;

the same products originating from different climate zones;

the same products originating from different zones with prices set at a level that makes it unprofitable to transport to other regions.196

The second thesis of the model states that intercontinental trade causes intercontinental division of labor and a system of domination that “is composed of dominating and dominated zones, which is reinforced by treaties, and which is directed by Europe, buying and selling at will. Any modification in the “Ed” zone leads to a change in the others, whereas the converse is not true.”197

Mauro emphasizes that the system of intercontinental dominance is hierarchical, i.e. all changes in Europe cause changes in South America, which lead to changes in Africa. To put it in another way: sugar buyers have dominated sugar producers who have made the slave traders dependent on him.

←132 | 133→

A following of Mauro’s statements, based on the basic idealizing assumptions, formulates a dependency demonstrating the development of a global import value:

V = E + A + T + R + S

Key: V – global import value; E – European import value; A – African import value; T – North American import value; R – South American import value; S –Asian import value.

Afterwards, Mauro formulates a dependency allowing determining the global export value:198

V = e + a + t + r + s

Key: see above; small letters symbolize the export value of individual continents.

The determination of the global export and import values allows Mauro to determine the contribution of individual contents to the intercontinental exchange.199 The contribution is expressed with a ratio between global import (or export) value and import (or export) of individual continents:

Afterwards, Mauro determines the dependency of the size of profit in the intercontinental exchange:

P = V − (A + R)

Key: P – value of profit; V – value of sale; A – capital necessary to rent the means of transport (ship); R – cost of repair of the ship.

In the above formula, the level of profit predominantly depends on the costs of ship exploitation. As long as they are constant, the level of acquired profit remains unchanged.

In the second model Mauro reduces the assumption (a6) stating that all goods have the same quality.200 He distinguishes:

high-quality products in the moderate continental zones;

high-quality products in the tropical continental zones (including slaves);

←133 | 134→

second-quality products;

third-quality products.

The introduction of the quality of sold goods causes a modification in the statements of the first type – an intra-continental division of labor develops next to the intercontinental division of labor. For example, an economic sector producing third-quality goods develops in the Mediterranean Europe, continental Europe produced second-quality products, and Nordic Europe – first-quality goods. Corresponding transformations took place on the other continents; however, according to Mauro, their direction and range is less clear in comparison to Europe.

The socio-economic structure of separate continental zones, dependent on the quality of produced goods, modified the relations with other continents by increasing or decreasing the demand on specific types of goods.

Additionally, the above factor allows correcting the statements of the second type. It enables a deeper investigation of the structure of export and import of separate continents. Mauro conducts his study with reference to Europe. The trade exchange involving the European continent included export of goods of I and II quality and import of goods of I and II quality and silver from other regions of the world. Nonetheless, the differentiation of the quality of goods did not influence the level of gained profits.

In the third model, Mauro reinstates the assumption (a6), but reduces the assumption (a7) on the invariability of exploitation costs of the means of transport. The removal of this assumption allows discussing the process of acquiring profit in time:201

Pm-t1 = Vm - (At1 + Rtn)

Key: Pm-t1 profit acquired from the capital in the period from t1 to tn; Vtn sale value in tn; Atl capital required in t1 to rent ships; Rtn cost of repair and exploitation of ships between t1 and tn.

Profit for the period tn – t1 increases annually, if the period of time tntn becomes shorter. According to Mauro, technological advancement reduces the period of time. The shift from wind-powered to steam-powered ships exerted the major impact. However, there were many previous technological inventions: the increase of profitability had been influenced by the introduction of a new type of ship – caravel, the discovery of new techniques of calculation of latitude and longitude, and the invention of a chronometer.

←134 | 135→

The theory presented by Mauro has a star-like structure. On the force of the adopted assumptions (ar – a7), he formulates statements concerning the structure of intercontinental exchange, contribution of individual continents to intercontinental trade and the conditions of acquiring profit. Subsequently, Mauro reduces the assumption (a6) on the same quality of sold goods. It allows him to modify the statement on the structure of intercontinental exchange and further clarify the structure of exchange of the European continent. With reference to the third statement (on the level of profit), the reduction of the assumption is a degenerated concretization.

Finally, Mauro returns to his initial model and reduces the assumption (a7) on the constant costs of exploitation of the means of transport. By including the factor of technical advancement that decreases the costs of exploitation, he can conceptualize the factors influencing the increase of profits. The structure of the theory can be demonstrated in the following way:

M6 ← M7 → M6

Key: Mi model of the theory with an index indicating the number of simplifying assumptions; → relation of concretization.

The absence of the procedure of approximation and empirical verification is a peculiarity of Mauro’s theory. I would argue that it is a consequence of Mauro’s goal approach to only introduce the problem:

The aim of this article was not to build up a model which could be concrete, dynamic and qualitative. That will be a long-term task, based on the combination of huge collections of statistics. Our aim has been more modest; to incite scientific research into undertaking this combination, by showing its interest.202

7.6 A Recapitulation

The above-presented examples demonstrate the fact that economic-historical theories are diversified. The theories have various structures: star-like or linear structure. Their authors implement a number of simplifying procedures: they introduce various assumptions: idealizing, quasi-idealizing, stabilizing, aggregating, etc. Economic historians employ various concretization strategies – some of them initially include the influence of many factors in the derivative models, others include only one factor and sometimes a concretization takes on the shape of territorial-chronological specification. In the cases under investigation, the statements formulated in the models have a qualitative character. The process ←135 | 136→of operationalization of the idealizational statements is often a separate research undertaking.

The idealizational procedure is theoretically fruitful. However, its essential reconstruction does not constitute the predominant approach of the historical research. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that a number of meta-methodological assumptions of the essential reconstruction of idealization are difficult to adopt in humanities. The assumptions conceptualized in ITS are unable to capture the specificity of the social sciences, especially history.

8 The Limitations of the Method of Idealization

A standard example of the scientific conduct in ITS is a set of procedures adopted in the natural sciences and particularly in physics. Furthermore, there is a silent agreement that the domineering type of causality in the natural sciences is the regular causality.203 For this reason, by knowing the most essential determinant of a given phenomenon we can predict its future states, with a satisfying approximation, among other things. The influence of incidental factors causes disturbances in the regular behavior of a phenomenon gradually or has predictable consequences.204 This method of comprehension of causality in the natural sciences in the essential reconstruction of idealization is mechanically transferred onto the area of the social sciences.

However, the most recent accomplishments of the chaos theory demonstrate that this image of the natural sciences calls for a substantial correction. Even the simple phenomena, i.e. a simultaneous collision of three billiard balls, behave in an unexpected way.205 A characteristic feature of the phenomena subjected to chaotic causality is their:

←136 | 137→

uttermost instability – extremely high sensitivity to any, even tiny disturbances. The future becomes unpredictable when even a tiny change (disturbance) of movement at any time can cause future changes of any size. […] In other words, a small cause can lead to enormous consequences.206

The intuitions of the chaos theory are even more frequently applied in the historical sciences where the principal factors exert a significantly weaker impact and where, in consequence, a historian approaches the problem of abstracting from seemingly “inessential” secondary circumstances with great caution. Michael Shermer pondered on the issue of implementation of basic intuitions of the chaos theory to the area of historical research and developed a so-called chaotic model of historical sequences.207 According to the model, a historical process is a resultant of not only necessity and order but also contingency and chaos. Shermer perceives a contingent event as “a conjuncture of events occurring without perceptible design”208 and necessities as “constraining circumstances compelling a certain course of action.”209 Every historical sequence begins with bifurcation – a focal point where a number of necessities is balanced with other necessities, whereas factors behave unpredictably and are subject to chaotic regularities. However, in the course of historical evolution, a number of necessities become dominant. The influence of a trigger of change (trigger effect) may determine which one of the factors will become dominant. Under normal circumstances the trigger effect is inessential, but it brings about substantial consequences and leads to a shift in direction of a historical evolution. The sooner a trigger of change appears in a historical sequence, the greater the influence it exerts. The later it appears, the smaller the influence. Shermer argues that the transitions ←137 | 138→from chaos to order are gradual and common, while the shifts in the opposite direction, i.e. from an organized state to a chaotic state, are sudden and rare.

However, Shermer’s proposals are imprecise and have aroused serious doubts. First, he fails to provide a detailed description of the state of bifurcation in which a number of necessities is balanced with other necessities. Consequently, the purpose of the trigger of change is unclear. Is it supposed to introduce transitions from the domain of order and necessity to the domain of contingency and chaos – “trigger of change is any stimulus that causes a shift from the dominance of necessity and order to the dominance of contingency and chaos”210 or is its sole purport to decide which of the balanced necessities win in the state of bifurcation – “trigger of change will be most effective when well-established necessities have been challenged by others so that a contingency may push the sequence in one direction or the other”?211 For one thing is shift between the types of regularity (regular to chaotic) that a given phenomenon is subject to, and another is a shift from one necessity to another within a given type of regularity (regular or chaotic). I aim to avoid the above-described ambiguities by suggesting an explication the following chapter of this book of intuitions of the coexistence of regularities and contingencies in history, as formulated in a conceptual apparatus of the idealizational theory of science.

The principal theses of the chaos theory confirm the intuitions shared by many historians that history has been unpredictable.212 Furthermore, practicing historians and historical methodologists devoted to professional pondering on history both express a conviction that the comprehension of laws operating in the social world from the viewpoint of natural science is insufficient to historical cognition:

Our modern-day view of the past is fatally burdened with determinism: […] The problems of historical alternatives and different development of events to the one that actually happened have been entirely excluded from the area of the scientific historical research and an attempt was made to knock them down to the level of “journalism.” In consequence, the historical sciences were result substantially impoverished. They turned into an area of research of small and large historical facts, and insignificant and significant developmental processes usually forced into the framework of an adopted ←138 | 139→in advance convention of the “regularity” of a particular development of facts and processes that are attempted to be stigmatized with a stamp of total inevitability.213

This perception (of the fatalistic influence of the social sciences) transfers the relations relevant to the reality of the natural sciences onto the social reality. This situation applies to the entire problem of determinism that shifted during the era of Positivism from the natural sciences onto the social reflection. Let us add that the theory of historical materialism has also been subjected to a naturalistic deformation and that it still ineffectively struggles to absolve itself from it. The simple explanation is that a positivist viewpoint is more approachable and usually more compatible with a common reflection slanted toward solutions from the category of simple relations, than the standpoints offering a deeper comprehension of the cognitive process.214

I find it noteworthy to investigate the intuitions expressed by historians.215 Hence, I will discuss the viewpoints of four authors who put forward opinions on alternatives in the historical evolution: Jerzy Łojek, Jerzy Topolski, Jan Pomorski and Marceli Handelsman.

Alternative developmental lines are not unique in the historical process. As argued by Łojek, they are present in almost all landmark moments in history:

All historical processes, without exception, from the largest socio-economic transformations to the political accidents shaping the face of individual countries or of a part of the world had during their onset and development substantial alternatives lasting a lifetime of one or more generations. It is clearly visible in the history of great political and military conflicts that the beginning of every historical process resembles crossroads with roads initially close to each other, and later divided by a growing space. Sometimes the moment of entering the crossroads of history was very brief, sometimes it has not even ←139 | 140→been noticed by the historiography. Sometimes, the direction of history was determined by a mere coincidence and more often by a decision of a person aware of the purposes but oblivious of the consequences… And sometimes there were other possibilities. Our knowledge is being substantially impoverished by the persistence to research only the selected line of development.216

According to Łojek, the direction of human behavior and actions determines the selection of a developmental possibility. In turn, human actions are conditioned by the state of social consciousness. And the shape of social consciousness deciding on the direction of the evolution of human history, currently perceived as inevitable and necessary, is a result of a conjunction of various, sometimes entirely coincidental events and circumstances. A developmental alternative is frequently selected by chance. Human history, as Łojek concludes his study, could have easily unfold into a different direction in the landmark moments.

Topolski describes the nature of the historical process correspondingly. He purports to explain the phenomenon of alternatives intrinsic to a historical process with an analogy between biological development and social development:

Here, the situation is similar to the situation of a gene pool that in the course of evolution became greatly polymorphic, that is, greatly […] diversified with reference to individual populations. This gene pool created opportunities for a relatively fast adaptation to the new conditions.217

Whereas in the course of social evolution, the place of the gene pool is taken by human knowledge collected over time (Topolski terms it an information pool). This knowledge indicates the possibilities to take alternative actions. According to Topolski, history is always a pool of alternatives. Which one of these alternatives is selected for implementation depends on a conscious human choice or on a coincidence that points the historical process into a particular direction. The pool of possibilities intrinsic to the historical process is determined by factors external to human will. The execution of a selected developmental alternative may be a resultant of a conscious human choice. The more adequate the knowledge of social conditions possessed by the people in the moment of action, the less significant the function of coincidence in history.

According to Pomorski, the historical process is a hierarchy of social practices.218 He distinguishes three basic types of practice: socio-material ←140 | 141→practice, legal-political practice and cultural practice. Socio-material practice is the paramount practice. It consists in merely reproducing people and ensuring the means enabling their existence. Legal-political practice sanctions the social relations existing in a given society and constituting material social practice. In terms of functionality, legal-political practice is subordinated to production practice. Following from this, a given legal-political practice becomes widespread from a determined pool of legal-political practices is the one that guarantees the achievement of the highest production level in a given society. Socio-cultural practice constitutes another type of practices. In terms of functionality, it is subordinated to socio-material practice and legal-political practice. Its purpose is to provide motivation to undertake social action within the two above-mentioned practices and to formulate rules and regulations for an effective action. According to Pomorski, alternatives in historical development appear at the interface of the two types of practice: production practice and legal-political practice. In terms of functionality, legal-political practice is subordinated to production practice. However, legal-political practice counter-influences production practice. A given state of social legal-political practice allows for a pool of methods to produce goods of a particular level of effectiveness. The levels of effectiveness of production methods can be ordered from the least effective to the most effective. The selection of a particular legal-political practice counter-influences the production level. Pomorski terms the relation a stimulation of manufacturing practice by a legal-political practice. As a result of the stimulation (of the counter-influence of the political practice), the production practice adopts a less or more effective variant, respectively. He claims that this is the source of a historically documented phenomenon of deepening economic differences between countries that “set about” from the same level (not a long time ago) and, subsequently, found themselves in different socio-economic formations. This state of affairs was influenced by the choice of a variant of a social legal-political practice that stimulated the production practice. Pomorski concludes his investigation with the following words:

[A historical process is] a shift from the historically probable to the historically necessary, in the course of the increasing objective effect of a series of human actions. Therefore, for every historical moment there are alternative lines of future development available in a given moment; some of them are being gradually blocked in the course ←141 | 142→of a series of human actions reducing the possibilities, narrowing down the range of opportunities until – finally – there is only one left, historically necessary at the time.219

Marceli Handelsman expressed a slightly different viewpoint on the possibilities of alternative historical development.220 The historian developed his ideas into a more systematic way and created a theory of possibilism. Handelsman put forward an observation that a historical process has a triple nature. It comprises of three types of factors: intentionally caused by humans, selected by an individual from many available options, and enforced and indelible. Our approach to history depends on our choice which of the three distinguished factors is given primacy. Depending on the chosen hierarchy, history is a result of rational and intentional human decisions, a result of a series of coincidences or an area of operation of blind forces of nature. Hence, the triple nature of the historical process will always provoke questions concerning the limits of human freedom and the role of necessity in history.

Handelsman argues that an individual human being, mentally and physically unique constitutes the subject of history. However, a human endowed with a unique personality undertakes actions that have consequences and implications of a proper and necessary character – a change of the social environment. Hence, a unique and exceptional human consciously committing to an action, simultaneously becomes a source of determinisms for the social world. Following from this, the undertakings of an individual human being are most definitely not free, as he/she is subject to a number of external conditions. According to Handelsman, the most constant ones include geographical environment, as climate, the properties of soil, etc. impose on humans the methods of solving social problems – food production, way of dressing, etc. A social structure external to the autonomous subject constitutes another factor shaping human behavior. A particular system of cooperation and social interaction, production methods, ways of satisfying needs are the factors most determining for human behavior.

However, the above-defined social and geographical determinism do not determine the entire history of human kind, because contradictory tendencies and factors may counterbalance and intersect with each other. Only then, when the opposing tendencies are mutually counterbalanced, appear the hiatuses, as ←142 | 143→Handelsman terms them, or situations when factors that used to determine history, balance each other and it appears as if history has paused.

In this sequence of factors, the conscious, purposeful will of humans is sometimes an insignificant factor. Sometimes, when a pause is longer and level of mutual counterbalance of different tendencies is greater conscious and purposeful will of humans becomes a principal factor. When human will once enters the chain of forces, despite its most par excellence individualistic origins, it influences further progress of events in a way that could be described as deterministic; on an equal footing with other non-human forces.221

Between the two radical interpretations of history – fatalism that eliminates human will from history and voluntarism that credits human activity with the role of the only history-shaping factor, Handelsman situates the concept of possibilism defined in the following way:

In this formula, the foreground is obviously occupied to a large extent by non-human factors, under which I also subsume the nature of human psyche itself and the nature of human activity. The domain of non-human phenomena is thoroughly and exclusively mental and is always permeated by mentalism. […] Thus, the domain of non-human phenomena is a sphere of interrelations that are connected logically by the consequences of causes and effects. It is a sphere of phenomena that developed deterministically. The world of the deterministically defined phenomena permeated by mentalism is connected with the world of randomness, the world of human individuality. Through the entanglement of influences, surrendering to instantaneous suspension of the necessities that govern it, the world opens up the possibilities of the operation for individualities, with which it is at any rate strongly united.222

In Handelsman’s view, the above vision of a historical process imposes on the theoreticians and researchers of the past, the obligation to identify and recognize the scope of human freedom in history and the range of determination.

I would like to supplement the above-presented ideas of the prominent historians with the opinions of philosophers pondering on the nature of history. For example, Hans-Georg Gadamer puts forward an observation that history has always included a paradox of “small causes and huge effects:”

If it is an old fundamental principle of the knowledge of nature that the cause must be equal the effect, the opposite is true when it comes to the experience of history: small ←143 | 144→causes have huge consequences. It obviously belongs to the experience of those who stand within history that it surprised them.223

General history is supposed to be an area where human freedom is manifested in the most outstanding way:

This formulation makes history appear as a staged drama, In it, there are scenes, which initiate the affected spectators into a new direction taken by the course of things. It may be that the course of things is determined in general by the given circumstances in such a way that many possibilities are foreclosed and only a few open. Yet, the complex in which world history fits is anything but knowable or even foreseeable in its necessity. The complex does not have the character of the connection between cause an effect in the way it underlies our knowledge and calculation of the course of nature.224

Gadamer solves the paradox of small causes and huge effects on a metaphysical plane. He argues that in the human history causes act in a teleological way. Therefore, the historical processes:

seems as if, like the process of production, they a guided by pre-existing purpose, striving toward pre-determined form, for example, the form of the developed living organism. All this seems as if what already exists sets itself into motion toward its ultimate form. This material, which we prefer to call matter, appears to generate out of itself the process of becoming and change.225

A discussion of the paradox of small causes and huge effects can be conducted on the metaphysical plane, but it is equally worth considering if the paradox could be solved by smaller means, without engaging in inevitably controversial, life-long disputes of metaphysicians. The paradox of small causes and great effects can be also discussed on the methodological plane. In the further part of this chapter, I will characterize Gadamer’s paradox of small causes and huge effects in the terms of idealizational theory of science, however, it is equally possible to explain this paradox using the languages of other methodological concepts.

The problem of alternatives in the historical development has been addressed on the plane of categorical ontology in the problematic of categorical differentiation; however, no methodological consequences have been drawn.226 In its ←144 | 145→current shape, ITS does not include the methodological peculiarities of built and structure of the idealizational theories of science capable of taking up the question of developmental alternatives in history. One of these issues is the above-mentioned paradox of small causes and great effects. To explain this paradox, I shall extend the conceptual apparatus of ITS by an effect, termed by me a cascade effect, and will follow with a determination of changes brought by this effect, among others, into the structure of a scientific theory and the construction of a historical narrative.

←145 | 146→←146 | 147→

136 Lawrence R. Klein, An Introduction to Econometrics (Englewood Cliffe: Prentice Hall, 1962), pp. 251–256; 261–266.

137 This is a simplified variant of the reconstruction presented in: Leszek Nowak, Model ekonomiczny. Studium z metodologii ekonomii politycznej (Warszawa: PWE, 1972), pp. 128–132.

138 Klein, An Introduction, p. 251, my emphasis.

139 Leszek Nowak put forward the first description of the idealization method in: Leszek Nowak, “O zasadzie abstrakcji i stopniowej konkretyzacji,” in: Założenia metodologiczne “Kapitału” Marksa, ed. Jerzy Topolski (Warszawa: KiW, 1970), pp. 123–218; for further developments, see: Leszek Nowak, U podstaw Marksowskiej metodologii nauki (Warszawa: PWN, 1971), Leszek Nowak, Zasady marksistowskiej filozofii nauki. Próba systematycznej rekonstrukcji (Warszawa: PWN, 1974), Leszek Nowak, Wstęp do idealizacyjnej teorii nauki (Warszawa: PWN, 1977), Leszek Nowak, The Structure of Idealization. Towards a Systematic Interpretation of the Marxian Idea of Science (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1980); and for a review of the development and implementation, and a discussion of the concept of idealization, see: Leszek Nowak and Izabela Nowakowa, Idealization X: The Richness of Idealization (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2000). For the recent studies on Idealizational Theory of Science, see: Giacomo Borbone, “The Legacy of Leszek Nowak,” Epistemologia, Vol. 34, No. 2 (2012), pp. 227–252; Giacomo Borbone, “Leszek Nowak and Idealizational Approach to Science,” Linquistic and Philosophical Investigations, Vol. 10 (2011), pp. 125–149, Giacomo Borbone, Questioni di metodo. Leszek Nowak e la scienza come idealizzazione (Roma: Acireale, 2016); Francesco Coniglione, Realta e astrazione. Scuola polacca ed epistemologia post-positivistica (Roma: Acireale/Bonnano, 2008).

140 The first explication of the term of influence was in: Leszek Nowak, Byt i myśl. Przyczynek do metafizyki unitarnej,” Studia Filozoficzne, No. 1 (1989), p. 14. The explication present in this book is based on the modification provided by Katarzyna Paprzycka and Marcin Paprzycki “A Note on the Unitarian Explication of Idealization,” in: Idealization III: Approximation and Truth, eds. Jerzy Brzeziński and Leszek Nowak (Amsterdam – Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1992), pp. 279–283.

141 For more on the subject, see: Izabela Nowakowa, Z problematyki teorii prawdy w filozofii marksistowskiej (Poznań: UAM, 1977).

142 Nowak, Nowakowa, Idealization X: The Richness, pp. 399–406.

143 Verification of the idealizational theory is possible at every its stage. However, there is a difference between verification of its “factual” and “idealization” part. Factual statements can be directly referred to reality. However, in order to verify statements including idealizing assumptions, we have to create conditions where the impact of the excluded secondary factors equals zero. Then, in the conditions of a perfect experiment, the principal factor is attributed with a value k(r). Afterwards, we check if the magnitude F(a) acquires the assumed value k(r). The idealizational law is confirmed if the analysed magnitude F(a) acquires the adopted value k(r). If the magnitude F(a) adopts a value different from k(r), the idealizational law is falsified.

144 Cf. Elżbieta Hornowska, Operacjonalizacja wielkości psychologicznych. Założenia – Struktura – Konsekwencje (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1989), pp. 52–61; Elżbieta Hornowska, “A Certain Approach to Operationalization,” in: Idealization II: Forms and Application, eds. Jerzy Brzeziński, Francesco Coniglione, Theo A. F. Kuipers and Leszek Nowak (Amsterdam-Atlanta: Rodopi, 1990), pp. 77–86.

145 Cf. Nowak, Zasady marksistowskiej filozofii nauki, pp. 50–51. In his study devoted to the concept, Krzysztof Łastowski distinguished inter-level and between-level factors. Inter-level magnitudes affect only one level of complexity of an analysed object. Between-level magnitudes affect at least two levels of complexity of a given object. Therefore, in accordance with aggregating assumptions, a given between-level magnitude is treated as an inter-level magnitude. See: Krzysztof Łastowski, Rozwój teorii ewolucji. Studium metodologiczne (Poznań: Wyd. UAM, 1987); Krzysztof Łastowski, “On Multi-Level Scientific Theories,” in: Idealization II: Forms and Application, eds. Jerzy Brzeziński, Francesco Coniglione, T.A.F. Kuipers and Leszek Nowak (Amsterdam-Atlanta: Rodopi, 1990), pp. 33–59.

146 Nowak, Zasady marksistowskiej filozofii nauki, pp. 123–129.

147 Cf. Piotr Chwalisz, “Stałe w teorii idealizacyjnej,” in: Odkrycie, abstrakcja, prawda, empiria, historia a idealizacja, eds. Andrzej Klawiter and Leszek Nowak (Warszawa-Poznań: PWN, 1979), pp. 99–104. For more on the reconstruction of stabilizing statements, see: Renata Zielińska, Abstrakcja, idealizacja, generalizacja. Próba analizy metodologicznej (Poznań: Wyd. UAM, 1981), p. 43.

148 Relativization of the influence of essential factors present in the essential structure of a particular phenomenon to time is investigated in the categorical ontology. This approach allows to, i.e. study the reshaping of the essential structure of the phenomenon under analysis, and the relations occurring between reshaping of the essential structures and the changes in the structure of the scientific theories providing explanation of the particular phenomena. For more, see: Leszek Nowak, U podstaw dialektyki marksowskiej. Próba interpretacji kategorialnej (Warszawa: PWN, 1977), Andrzej Michał Witkowski, Z problematyki zmienności indywiduów. Przyczynek do ontologii kategorialnej (Poznań: Nakom, 1992).

149 For other classifications of the comparative method, see: Stephen Kalberg, Max Weber’s Comparative Historical Sociology (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994); Matthew Lange, Comparative-Historical Methods (Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013); Charles Tilly, As Sociology Meets History (New York: Academic Press, 1981); Charles Tilly, Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1984).

150 Victoria E. Bonell, “The Uses of Theory, Concepts and Comparison in Historical Sociology,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 22 (1980), p. 165.

151 Bonell, “The Uses of Theory, Concepts and Comparison,” pp. 164–165.

152 Theda Skocpol and Margaret Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History in Macro-Social Inquiry,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 22 (1980), pp. 176–177.

153 Skocpol, Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History,” p. 177.

154 Skocpol, Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History,” p. 178.

155 Skocpol, Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History,” p. 178.

156 Skocpol, Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History,” p. 183.

157 Skocpol, Somers, “The Uses of Comparative History,” p. 183.

158 Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambrigde: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 39. On methodological discussion on Skocpol’s book, see: Krzysztof Brzechczyn, “Strategies of Comparative Analysis in Historical Comparative Sociology: An Attempt at an Explication within the Conceptual Framework of the Idealizational Theory of Science,” in: Idealization XIV: Models in Science eds. Giacomo Borbone and Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Leiden- Boston: Brill/Rodopi, 2016), pp. 187–191.

159 Theda Skocpol, “Analysing Causal Configuration in History: a Rejoinder to Nichols,” Comparative Social Research, Vol. 9 (1986), p. 190.

160 For an explication of the interaction of factors in the conceptual apparatus of ITS, see: Jerzy Brzeziński, “Interaction, Essential Structure, Experiment,” Poznań Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Vol. 1 (1975), pp. 43–58, and the following chapter of the present book.

161 Skocpol has introduced this assumption with reference to the French, Russian and Chinese revolution (Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions, p. 39). It is naturally a contra-factual assumption, as the French revolution of 1789 has influenced at least the ideals of the further 19th-century revolutions on the European continent, and the Chinese revolution was modelled on the Bolshevik revolution. For a full reconstruction of Skocpol’s methodological and theoretical assumptions of the concept of revolution, see: Krzysztof Brzechczyn, “Rozwój teorii rewolucji w socjologii historyczno-porównawczej. Próba analizy metodologicznej,” in: O rewolucji. Obrazy radykalnej zmiany społecznej, eds. Krzysztof Brzechczyn and Marek Nowak (Poznań: Wyd. Nauk. IF UAM, 2007), pp. 37–64; Krzysztof Brzechczyn, “Zwycięska rewolucja i przegrana modernizacja. Próba parafrazy teorii rewolucji społecznych Thedy Skocpol w aparaturze pojęciowej nie-Marksowskiego materializmu historycznego,” in: Jednostka w układzie społecznym. Próba teoretycznej konceptualizacji, eds. Krzysztof Brzechczyn, Mieszko Ciesielski and Eliza Karczyńska (Poznań: WN WNS UAM, 2013), pp. 223–252; Krzysztof Brzechczyn, “Miejsce metody porównawczej w teorii rewolucji Thedy Skocpol. Próba eksplikacji w aparaturze pojęciowej idealizacyjnej teorii nauki,” Filozofia Nauki, Vol. 24, No. 4 (2016), pp. 49–72; Brzechczyn, “Strategies of Comparative Analysis,” pp. 184–201.

162 According to Jan Pomorski, the models developed by authors from the circle of the New Economic History are interpreted in a realistic way. He also presents a procedure of modeling in line with this paradigm. In the first stage, the idealizing assumptions (or counter-factual) and realistic assumptions are put forward. Afterwards, “the prime functional dependency of an analysed structure determining the other magnitudes” is established, see: Jan Pomorski, Paradygmat “New Economic History.” Studium z teorii rozwoju nauki historycznej (Lublin: Wyd. UMCS, 1985), p. 127. In consequence, the basic economic categories, which are in direct connection with the analyzed functional dependency are distinguished. In the further stadium of the modeling procedure, a dynamic of the researched structure is analysed and prognoses are formulated concerning its future states. Finally, an operationalization of the variables of the model is conducted, and theses are verified against an empirical material, see: Pomorski, Paradygmat, pp. 125–132

163 Jerzy Topolski, Marksizm i historia (Warszawa: PWN, 1977), p. 134.

164 Evsey D. Domar, The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis,” The Journal of Economic History, No. 30 (1970), p. 19.

165 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 19.

166 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 20.

167 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 20.

168 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 20.

169 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 20.

170 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 30.

171 Domar, The Causes of Slavery,” p. 19.

172 Domar,The Causes of Slavery,” p. 25.

173 Domar,The Causes of Slavery,” p. 26 and further.

174 Witold Kula, An Economic Theory of the Feudal System. Towards a Model of Polish Economy, 1500–1800 (London: NLB, 1976), p. 26. For an original reconstruction of the theory, see: Nowak, Zasady marksistowskiej filozofii nauki, pp. 212–213.

175 Kula, An Economic Theory, pp. 42–43.

176 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 46.

177 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 141.

178 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 43.

179 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 76.

180 Kula, An Economic Theory, pp. 76–77.

181 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 83.

182 Kula, An Economic Theory, pp. 83 and 87.

183 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 89.

184 Kula, An Economic Theory, pp. 119–120.

185 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 133.

186 Kula, An Economic Theory, p. 126.

187 Cf. Jerzy Topolski, “Verification in Economic History,” Studia Historiae Oeconomicae, Vol. 21 (1994), pp. 20–21. For a discussion of the reaction of academic critcisim to Kula’s theory, see: Jacek Kochanowicz, “Teoria ekonomiczna… w oczach krytyków,” in: Jerzy Kula, Teoria ekonomiczna ustroju feudalnego (Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza, 1983), pp. 247–270.

188 For a discussion of the results of papers inspired by Kula’s theory, see also: Topolski, “The Development and the Crisis,” pp. 136–141.

189 Jerzy Topolski, “The Economic Model of the Wielkopolska Region in the 18th Century,” in: Idealization XIII: Modeling in History, ed. Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2009 [1977]), pp. 269–285.

190 Topolski, “The Economic Model,” p. 281.

191 Topolski, “The Economic Model,” p. 277.

192 Topolski, “The Economic Model,” p. 284.

193 Topolski, “The Economic Model,” p. 281

194 Topolski, “The Economic Model,” p. 279.

195 Frédéric Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model: European Overseas Expansion between 1500 and 1800,” The Economic History Review, sec. ser., No. 1(14), (1961), p. 2.

196 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 5.

197 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 7.

198 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 9.

199 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 10.

200 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 8.

201 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” pp. 14–15.

202 Mauro, “Towards an Intercontinental Model,” p. 17.

203 For an attempt of conceptualization of regular and chaotic causality in the terms of categorical ontology, see: Leszek Nowak, “O zagadnieniu tak zwanej transformacji ustrojowej,” in: Społeczna transformacja w refleksji humanistycznej, ed. Krystyna Zamiara (Poznań: Wyd. UAM, 1994), pp. 122–123.

204 C.f. Andrzej Fuliński, “O chaosie i przypadku. A także o determinizmie, redukcjonizmie i innych grzechach fizyków czyli o zmianach w obrazie świata widzianych okiem jednego z nich,” Znak, No. 5 (1979), pp. 31–50; Michał Tempczyk, “Chaos a harmonia świata,” Znak, No. 5 (1993), pp. 50–56.

205 Cf.: Fuliński, “O chaosie i przypadku,” p. 38; John C. Polkinghorne, “Prawa przyrody i prawa fizyki,” Znak, No. 5 (1993), p. 62; Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos (Malden/Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002), pp. 18–37.

206 Fuliński, “O chaosie i przypadku,” p. 37.

207 Michael Shermer, “Exorcising Laplace’s Demon: Chaos and Anti-chaos, History and Metahistory,” History and Theory, Vol. 34, No. 1 (1995), pp. 59–83. See also a discussion on the question of employment of the theory of chaos in history in History and Theory, especially the following articles: Donald N. McCloskey, “History, Differential Equations, and the Problem of Narration,” History and Theory, Vol. 30, No. 1 (1991), pp. 21–36, George Reisch, “Chaos, History and Narrative,” History and Theory, Vol. 30(1) (1991), pp. 1–20, George Reisch, “Scientism without Tears: A Reply to Roth and Ryckman,” History and Theory, Vol. 34(1) (1995), pp. 45–57. Paul A. Roth and Thomas S. Ryckman, “Chaos, Clio and Scientific Illusions of Understanding,” History and Theory, Vol. 34(1) (1995), pp. 30–40.

208 Shermer, “Exorcising Laplace’s Demon,” p. 70.

209 Shermer, “Exorcising Laplace’s Demon,” p. 70.

210 Shermer, “Exorcising Laplace’s Demon,” p. 72.

211 Shermer, “Exorcising Laplace’s Demon,” pp. 72–73.

212 For a discussion on the application of the theory of chaos to the development of historical narrative and the structure of explanation, see: Topolski, Jak się pisze i rozumie historię, pp. 251–267.

213 Jerzy Łojek, Wokół sporów i polemik (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Lubelskie, 1991), p. 6.

214 Jerzy Topolski, Wolność i przymus w tworzeniu historii (Warszawa: PWN, 1990), p. 21.

215 The problematics of the “counter-factual history” in New Economic History is certainly close to the method of idealization in the historical sciences and the issue of developmental alternatives in history. In Pomorski’s interpretation, counter-factual models always adopt a more general view of the socio-economic development that allows for an analysis of realistic and alternative developments. Additionally, counter-factual models have to be historically realistic. This means that the factor substituting for the action of a given variable in the counter-factual model should exist in the historical reality. All variables of the model should also be operationalized and we should remember about the rule of representativeness of statistic data during their quantification, see: Pomorski, Paradygmat “New Economic History,” pp. 129–132. I will not be getting deeper into the issue because the counter-factual models developed under the New Economic History do not consider the historical alternatives inherent in the historical process understood as a whole, but only in a given, specific field of economic history.

216 Łojek, Wokół sporów, p. 8.

217 Topolski, Wolność i przymus, p. 22.

218 Jan Pomorski, W poszukiwaniu modelu historii teoretycznej (Lublin: Wyd. UMCS, 1984), pp. 115–136. For an alternative prioritization of social practices, see: Andrzej Klawiter, “Teoria formacji społecznej w materializmie historycznym,” in: Założenia materializmu historycznego, ed. Leszek Nowak (Warszawa-Poznań: PWN, 1978), pp. 233–258.

219 Pomorski, W poszukiwaniu modelu, p. 86.

220 Marceli Handelsman, “Possibilities and Necessities of the Historical Process,” in: Idealization XIII: Modeling in History, ed. Krzysztof Brzechczyn (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2009 [1931]), pp. 33–42.

221 Handelsman, “Possibilities and Necessities,” p. 40.

222 Handelsman, “Possibilities and Necessities,” pp. 40–41.

223 Hans-George Gadamer, Is There a Causality in History, in: Hermeneutics between History and Philosophy: Selected Writings, Vol. 1 (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), p. 4.

224 Gadamer, “Is There a Causality,” p. 4.

225 Gadamer, “Is There a Causality,” pp. 8–9, see also p. 12.

226 Leszek Nowak, Wykłady z filozofii marksistowskiej, Vol. 2: Ontologia i epistemologia (Poznań: Wyd. UAM, 1978), pp. 34–44.