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Commerce and demolition in Tsarist and Soviet Russia: lessons for theories of trade politics and the philosophy of social science

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Leaders of commodity-exporting states will sometimes push exports even when world prices are declining, if export receipts allow access to international capital markets. This article demonstrates that such state-mediated ties between commodity and capital markets shaped the politics of foreign trade in tsarist, and then Soviet, Russia. It also refutes an alternate, group-centered explanation of the same historical cases proposed in Rogowski's Commerce and Coalitions, pointing out serious empirical errors and oversights. These empirical problems have methodological roots. Searching for universal "laws," rather than sometimes relevant "mechanisms," limits the consideration of counterhypotheses to those that apply to a whole universe of cases, rather than a subset of them. Because such counterhypotheses serve to determine which data are relevant, their exclusion weakens the empirical tests to which proposed laws are subjected. Thus, the ambition for generality may cause scholars to become inadvertently too generous to the theories they seek to test.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/3473/

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