It is often contended that the special sciences, and even fundamental physics, make use of ceteris-paribus law-statements. Yet there are general concerns that such law-statements are vacuous or untestable or unscientific. I consider two main kinds of ceteris-paribus law-statement. I argue that neither kind is vacuous, that one of the kinds is untestable, that both kinds may count as scientific to the extent that they form parts of conjunctions that imply novel falsifiable statements which survive testing, but that one kind (...) has an affinity with ad hoc manoeuvres that are unsatisfactory from a scientific point of view. I show that the contemporary debate about ceteris-paribus law-statements is afflicted with error and confusion because of a general failure to disentangle the notions: non-vacuous, testable, scientific, verifiable, falsifiable, and ad hoc. (shrink)
This paper argues that economics is epistemologically limited in at least two main ways: first, economics fails at managing uncertainty as effectively as natural sciences do; second, economics assumes that rational patterns of utility maximization are real just to ensure deduction within economic models. Hence, this paper maintains that the high level of abstraction from reality of economics limits its explanations of its constantly changing ontology, i.e. markets. In particular, this paper shows that the epistemological limitations of economics become evident (...) once two examples from today’s world are considered, namely: the substitution of physical labor with AI-powered machines; and the introduction of the so-called Universal Basic Income (UBI), i.e. governmental stipends paid to those citizens whose job has been replaced by machines. Importantly, this paper argues that if an economy were to reach to the point where machines run any sort of private or public business and humans earn only the UBI, then such a situation would represent a limit case for economics. Indeed, this paper finds that although machines would represent the perfect example of rational utility-maximizers, in such a limit situation standard economic theory would most likely fail at predicting long-term economic outcomes. (shrink)
One of the explanations for the Great Crisis of 2007-2008 was that financial authorities should have issued stricter regulations to prevent the housing bubble. However, according to Alan Greenspan, President of the Federal Reserve System (FED) from 1987 to 2006, this is to judge with hindsight. No one can guess when a “bubble” begins, nor when it ends; they happen because of the “irrational exuberance” in investors’ behavior, which causes boom and bust cycles. Regulators are not in a better situation (...) for assessing risks, though: since market participants supposedly know their own risks better than the regulator (a kind of informational asymmetry), an intervention (except to ensure law-enforcement) would imply unjustified paternalism. However, a regulator does not have to be conceived as a paternalistic authority. We sketch an objection to Greenspan's argument, arguing that crises don’t require a defective reasoning such as the “irrational exuberance” – our usual bounded rationality might be enough to provide the kind of “self-fulfilling prophecy” observed in the rise and fall of bubble assets value. Given the possibility of grave externalities, authorities are justified in adopting measures to ensure investors behave in a prudent way, even if they supposedly know better their own risks. (shrink)
In markets globalization and increasing competition context, governments of the world’s leading countries are forced to use complex organizational and economic instruments to support the countries’ economy. One of such instruments is creation of Free Economic Zones (FEZ) with favorable conditions for doing business. Over the last decade activation process of Free Economic Zones mechanism disposal for the economy of a particular country development has been possible to observe. If in 1995 there were approximately 500 zones in the world, now (...) there are more than 4,300 zones in more than 130 countries which employ more than 68 thousand workers. In addition, global practice has shown that FEZ activities effective organization is efficient not only in giving impetus to the country’s economy development, but in bringing it into the world leaders as well. (shrink)
The monograph reveals challenging issues of small and medium enterprises development in the European Union and East-Partnership countries. Special attention is paid to a new paradigm of financing investments and fostering innovations at all levels of legal entities including SMEs, enhancing innovative entrepreneurship in conditions of global social and technological challenges as well as determining priority sectors for small and medium enterprises as drivers of economic growth. The authors of the monograph emphasize on such European approaches to financing SMEs as (...) crowd-funding and SME-bonds, analyze experience of applying fiscal instruments to support investment and innovations. The researchers underline the role of social investment as an innovative strategy for European SMEs that could be applied in Ukraine and East-partnership countries, suggest new conceptual approach to the evaluation of innovative business development. They also analyse trends of Ukrainian IT enterprises development in the context of modern information services in a global market. Additional attention is paid to the analysis of SMEs’ entrepreneurial potential in conditions of global social and technological changes, estimation effects of applying electronic governance technologies to provide administrative services by public authorities of various levels of governance. Finally, the researchers disclose economic mentality of legal entities as an informal side of financial assets and substantiate the necessity of creation entrepreneurial universities as drivers of innovative development of economy. The materials of the monograph will be useful to scholars, financial managers of companies, financial analysts, representatives of state bodies who implement the state policy in the field of SMEs development in the East-partnership countries, as well as students of economic universities. (shrink)
Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology (RHETM) is a journal/book series dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to a broad range of topics related to the history and methodology of economics. Volumes are divided into four parts: a monothematic section dedicated to research articles focused on a particular issue in the journal’s core fields of interest, a section including research articles of a more general nature, a section of newly-discovered archival materials, and a section of review essays on (...) new works in the history and methodology of economics. Founded by Warren Samuels in 1982, Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology is one of the oldest publication outlets in the fields of economic methodology and the history of economic thought. (shrink)
In the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the paradigm of a new science, political economy, was established. It was a science distinct from the Aristotelian sub-disciplines of practical philosophy named oikonomía and politiké, and emphasis on its character of science not unlike the natural sciences – still called ‘natural philosophy’ – mirrored precisely a willingness to stress its autonomy from two other sub-disciplines of practical philosophy, that is, ethics and politics. However, the new science resulted from a transformation (...) of part of traditional practical philosophy, allowing the inclusion of bodies of knowledge accumulated by experts of commerce and public finance. Such bodies of knowledge were unified by the (true or alleged) discovery of regularities, mechanisms, causal connections making for a new partial order within the overall social order. How far this paved the way to a science similar to mathematics rather left a normative discipline as alive as ever was a recurrent question for at least a century, until the marginalist revolution opened the way for a sharp division, leaving ‘economics’ as a science of causes and effects facing ‘economic policy’ as a discourse on ends. (shrink)
The book "Idealization XIV: Models in Science" offers a detailed ontological, epistemological and historical account of the role of models in scientific practice. The volume contains contributions of different international scholars who developed many aspects of the use of idealizations and models both in the natural and the social sciences. This volume is particularly relevant because it offers original contributions concerning one of the main topic in philosophy of science: the role of models in such branches of the sciences and (...) the humanities like comparative historical sociology, economics, history, linguistics and political philosophy. -/- Contributors are: Giacomo Borbone, Krzysztof Brzechczyn, Mieszko Ciesielski, Adam Czerniak, Xavier de Donato Rodríguez, José L. Falguera, Adolfo García de la Sienra, Lidia Godek, Igor Hanzel, Łukasz Hardt, Krzysztof Kiedrowski, Barbara Konat, Zenonas Norkus, Piotr Przybysz, Piotr Szwochert. (shrink)
As the title of this essay suggests, my concern is with the issue of what are economic models. However, the goal of the paper is not to offer an in-depth study on multiple approaches to modelling in economics, but rather to overcome the dichotomical divide between conceptualizing models as isolations and constructions. This is done by introducing the idea of economic models as believable worlds, precisely descriptions of mechanisms that refer to the essentials of the modelled targets. In doing so (...) I make use of the Woodward’s (2002) conceptualization of mechanisms. It is shown that such models do not offer the perfectly true descriptions of the actual world but justified beliefs about the modelled, precisely they aim at maximizing truth and minimizing falsity in a large body of belief about the real world. The analysis throughout the paper is supported by in-depth examination of the Varian’s (1980) model of sales that is here treated as a representative way of reasoning in neoclassical economics. (shrink)
My purpose is to appraise the recent critique of theoretical economics by applying the methodological perspective. Therefore, I start by identifying the main lines of criticism raised against theoretical economics in the aftermath of the post-2008 global economic crisis: namely, the voices criticizing economics for its unrealistic models, excessive mathematization, and overconfidence in its theoretical claims. First, I show that these issues are interconnected and should be jointly analyzed. Next, I investigate these lines of critique from the perspective provided by (...) the latest achievements in the philosophy of economics (e.g., studies on the epistemic role of economic models). Taking this perspective reinforces some allegations against economics (e.g., these voices accusing economists of treating economic laws as universal laws of nature) and makes some criticisms more nuanced (e.g., the issue of unrealistic assumptions). I conclude by stating that such a methodological perspective is necessary in critically apprising the recent critique of economics. (shrink)
A discussion of the relationship between Ricardo and his Unitarian Minister Thomas Belsham, a New Testament scholar and the author of a philosophical treatise inspired by the Hartley-Priestley philosophy.
A discussion of Ricardo's sustained relationship with James Mill as well as of hypotheses by such commentators as Halévy and Hutchison on a decisive philosophical influenco by Mill (eithr Scottish or Benthamite) on Ricardo's eocnomic methodology.
F.A. Hayek argued that the sciences of complex phenomena, including (perhaps especially) economics, are limited to incomplete “explanations of the principle” and “pattern predictions.” According to Hayek, these disciplines suffer from (what I call) a data problem, i.e., the hopelessness of populating theoretical models with data adequate to full explanations and precise predictions. In Hayek’s terms, explanations in these fields are always a matter of “degree.” However, Hayek’s methodology implies a distinct theory problem: theoretical models of complex phenomena may be (...) underspecified so that, even were all the data available, a full explanation could not be inferred from the model. Where the sciences of complex phenomena are subject to both the data and theory problems, explanations and predictions will be of even lesser “predictive degree.” The paper also considers how to interpret Hayek’s claim that pattern predictions are falsifiable. (shrink)
What lessons can legal scholars learn from the life and work of W. D. "Bill" Hamilton, a lifelong student of nature? From my small corner of the legal Academia, three aspects of Bill Hamilton’s work in evolutionary biology stand out in particular: (i) Hamilton’s simple and beautiful model of social behavior in terms of costs and benefits; (ii) his fruitful collaboration with the political theorist Robert Axelrod and their unexpected yet elegant solution of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, an important game or (...) puzzle that had defied solution until Hamilton and Axelrod came along; and (iii) Hamilton’s conception of science generally -- and in particular his view of the process of scientific justification -- as a form of trial advocacy. In this review of Ullica Segerstråle’s recently-published biography of Bill Hamilton, the author briefly recounts and reviews each one of these important contributions. (shrink)
During the last two centuries, the way economic science is done has changed radically: it has become a social science based on mathematical models in place of words. This book describes and analyses that change - both historically and philosophically - using a series of case studies to illuminate the nature and the implications of these changes. It is not a technical book; it is written for the intelligent person who wants to understand how economics works from the inside out. (...) This book will be of interest to economists and science studies scholars. But it also aims at a wider readership in the public intellectual sphere, building on the current interest in all things economic and on the recent failure of the so-called economic model, which has shaped our beliefs and the world we live in. (shrink)
Analytic induction (AI) is an interpretation of scientific method that emerged in early twentieth-century sociology and still has some influence today. Among the studies often cited as examples are Becker’s articles on marijuana use. While these have been given less attention than the work of Lindesmith on opiate addiction and Cressey on financial trust violation, Becker’s work has distinctive features. Furthermore, it raises some important and interesting issues that relate not only to AI but to social scientific explanation more generally. (...) These concern, for example, the presence and nature of causal systems in the social world, the relationship between historical and generalizing approaches, the character and role of social scientific theories, and how they are generated. In this article Becker’s research is examined in detail, and these issues explored through comparisons with the work of Lindesmith and Cressey. (shrink)
Path dependence is a central construct in social sciences, used to describe a mechanism that connects the past and the future in an abstract way. However, across disciplines, it remains unclear why path dependence sometimes occurs and sometimes not, why it sometimes lead to inefficient outcomes and sometimes not, how it differs from mere increasing returns, and how scholars can empirically support their claims on path dependence. Hence, path dependence is not yet a theory since it does not causally relate (...) identified variables in a systematized manner. Instead, the existing literature tends to conflate path dependence as a process (i.e. history unfolding in a self-reinforcing manner) and as an outcome (i.e. a persisting state of the world with specific properties, called ‘lock-in’). This paper contributes theoretically and methodologically to tackling these issues by: (1) providing a formal definition of path dependence that disentangles process and outcome, and identifies the necessary conditions for path dependence; (2) distinguishing clearly between path dependence and other ‘history matters’ kinds of mechanisms; and (3) specifying the missing link between theoretical and empirical path dependence. In particular, we suggest moving away from historical case studies of supposedly path-dependent processes to focus on more controlled research designs such as simulations, experiments, and counterfactual investigation. (shrink)
Ecologists typically invoke "law-like" generalizations, ranging over "structural" and/or "functional" kinds, in order to explain generalizations about "historical" kinds (such as biological taxa)rather than vice versa. This practice is justified, since structural and functional kinds tend to correlate better with important ecological phenomena than do historical kinds. I support these contentions with three recent case studies. In one sense, therefore, ecology is, and should be, more nomothetic, or law-oriented, than idiographic, or historically oriented. This conclusion challenges several recent philosophical claims (...) about the nature of ecological science. (shrink)
We reply to Philippe Depoortère’s paper “On Ricardo’s method: The Unitarian influence examined. Some comments on Cremaschi and Dascal’s article ‘Malthus and Ricardo on Economic Methodology’”. Depoortère asks two questions: (1) was Ricardo’s ‘conversion’ to Unitarianism sincere? (2) did Ricardo follow the methodologies of Priestley and Belsham? His answers are that he was a ‘religious skeptic’ and he was not an ‘empiricist’ like Priestley and Belsham. We reply that the sincerity of Ricardo’s religious beliefs is irrelevant since we start with (...) the evidence that he was exposed for a long time to the intellectual influence of Belsham, primarily in matters of philosophy, and to deny this would imply a negative answer to a different question, namely, did Ricardo attend Unitarian meetings for 15 years? Then we reply that Ricardo inherited Belsham’s version of Newtonian methodology which omitted the fourth rule, that is the most anti-Cartesian and anti-systematic rule, and this has little to do with empiricism but instead with apriorism. (shrink)
We reconstruct the text, that is, we analyse the development of the discussion between Malthus and Ricardo both in the correspondence and in published works, paying special attention to (a) the use of methodological statements, (b) some pragmatic features of the controversy, (c) considerations pertaining to the meta-level of the controversy (assessments of the status of the controversy, of ways of solving it, etc.); then, we reconstruct the co-text, that is, unpublished papers by each opponent that were not made available (...) to the other, records of exchanges between each of these and third parties, etc.; thirdly, we describe the essential features of the context, focusing on events that influenced the course of the controversy; (iv) we draw lessons from our case study on the role of co-text and context, on pragmatic and semantic interpretation, and on "casts of mind”. (shrink)
Professor Hausman has written an interesting and instructive book. Though I am by no means favourably disposed to methodology for economists,, I found reading Hausman enjoyable and I came away having learned things worth learning. But not all is well, largely because Hausman is a philosopher first and an economist a poor second. There are also important questions where one would have expected philosophic help which are not asked at all.
The paper describes how a simple idea, that of a new foundation of moral philosophy taking Galilean new natural philosophy as a mode , lead to unforeseen developments once the competition between a Cartesian and a Newtonian paradigm emerged. Those developments are reconstructed in Hume, Smith, Ferguson.