Ludwig von Mises’s methodological apriorism is frequently attributed to the broader Austrian School of economics, of which, of course, Mises was a prominent member. However, there is considerable controversy concerning the meaning of Mises’s various attempts to justify his apriorism. There are prima facie inconsistencies within and across Mises’s methodological writings that engender massive confusion in the secondary literature. This confusion is aggravated by the fact that Mises’s apriorism cannot be straightforwardly interpreted as an artifact of his historical milieu. Indeed, (...) the two prevailing families of interpretation both treat Mises’s apriorism as radically anachronistic, albeit in different senses. According to “extreme” interpretations, Mises’s apriorism reflects an epistemology several decades, if not centuries, beyond its expiration date. According to “moderate” interpretations, however, Mises’s apriorism anticipates ideas that would not appear in the epistemological literature for several decades to come. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that Mises’s actual methodological beliefs are not reflected in his writings, that Mises either obfuscated or exaggerated his methodological position, for whatever reasons, making it seem more radical than it was in fact. I conclude that we have no idea what justification Mises actually intended when he asserted the a priori nature of the fundamental propositions of economics. If this is right, then, whatever method(s) they follow, Austrian economists cannot (deliberately) follow Mises’s apriorism. (shrink)
Economists associated with the Austrian School of Economics are known to deny the value of macroeconomics as descended from the work of John Maynard Keynes and, especially, his followers. Yet, Austrian economists regularly engage in a related scientific activity: theorizing about the causes and consequences of economic fluctuations, i.e., the business cycle. What explains the Austrians’ willingness to engage in theorizing about the business cycle while denying the scientific import of macroeconomics? The present paper argues that the methodological precepts of (...) the School, which have remained largely in place since Carl Menger first pronounced them at the start of the Methodenstreit, justify the kind of business-cycle theorizing that Austrians do and imply the limited scientific value of macroeconomics as descended from Keynes. (shrink)
This article discusses the use of orthodox rational choice theory in the context of moral contractarianism. The article’s goals are threefold. First, the article clarifies the nature of moral contractarianism and corrects a fundamental misconception. Second, it responds to criticism that follows from this misconception. It shows that the criticism either misconstrues the nature of moral contractarianism or does not apply. Third, the article clarifies the limited role that formalization can play in the context of moral contractarianism. At best, such (...) formalization complements and, at worst, distracts from the true nature of the theory and, more generally, from the central role that the context of choice plays for the justification of moral principles in contractarian moral theory. (shrink)
This paper defends the viability of de-idealization strategies in economic modeling against recent criticism. De-idealization occurs when an idealized assumption of a theoretical model is replaced with a more realistic one. Recently, some scholars have raised objections against the possibility or fruitfulness of de-idealizing economic models, suggesting that economists do not employ this kind of strategy. We present a detailed case study from the theory of industrial organization, discussing three different models, two of which can be construed as de-idealized versions (...) of the first (the so-called Bertrand model of oligopoly). We conclude that recent pessimism about de-idealization in economics is largely unfounded, and that de-idealization strategies are not only possible but also widely employed in economics. (shrink)
В апреле 2022 года исполнится 10 лет со времени опубликования концепции новой экономической модели. К этому сроку, т.е. ещё в текущем году, я намереваюсь провести денежную реформу на территории, находящейся в юрисдикции общности Русь.
Models not only represent but may also influence their targets in important ways. While models’ abilities to influence outcomes has been studied in the context of economic models, often under the label ‘performativity’, we argue that this phenomenon also pertains to epidemiological models, such as those used for forecasting the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic. After identifying three ways in which a model by the Covid-19 Response Team at Imperial College London may have influenced scientific advice, policy, and individual responses, (...) we consider the implications of epidemiological models’ performative capacities. We argue, first, that performativity may impair models’ ability to successfully predict the course of an epidemic; but second, that it may provide an additional sense in which these models can be successful, namely by changing the course of an epidemic. (shrink)
The history of economic thought witnessed several prominent economists who took seriously models and concepts in physics for the elucidation and prediction of economic phenomena. Econophysics is an emerging discipline at the intersection of heterodox economics and the physics of complex systems, with practitioners typically engaged in two overlapping but distinct methodological programs. The first is to export mathematical methods used in physics for the purposes of studying economic phenomena. The second is to export mechanisms in physics into economics. A (...) conclusion is drawn that physics transfer is often justified at the level of mathematical transfer but unjustified at the level of mechanistic transfer. (shrink)
Decision theorists have attempted to accommodate several violations of decision theory’s axiomatic requirements by modifying how agents’ choice options are individuated and formally represented. In recent years, prominent authors have worried that these modifications threaten to trivialize decision theory, make the theory unfalsifiable, impose overdemanding requirements on decision theorists, and hamper decision theory’s internal coherence. In this paper, I draw on leading descriptive and normative works in contemporary decision theory to address these prominent concerns. In doing so, I articulate and (...) assess several different criteria for individuating and formally representing agents’ choice options. (shrink)
There is a striking contrast between the significance of Harold Hotelling’s contribution to industrial economics and the fact that his location model was invalid, unrealistic and non-robust. It is difficult to make sense of the explanatory value of Hotelling’s model based on philosophical accounts that emphasize logical validity, representational adequacy, and robustness as determinants of explanatory value. However, these accounts are misleading because they overlook the context within which the explanatory value added of a model is apprehensible. We present Hotelling’s (...) model in its historical context and show why it is an important and explanatory model despite its apparent deficiencies. (shrink)
This paper discusses ethical issues surrounding Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) of the economic effects of climate change, and how climate economists acting as policy advisors ought to represent the uncertain possibility of catastrophe. Some climate economists, especially Martin Weitzman, have argued for a precautionary approach where avoiding catastrophe should structure climate economists’ welfare analysis. This paper details ethical arguments that justify this approach, showing how Weitzman’s “fat tail” probabilities of climate catastrophe pose ethical problems for widely used IAMs. The main (...) claim is that economists who ignore or downplay catastrophic risks in their representations of uncertainty likely fall afoul of ethical constraints on scientists acting as policy advisors. Such scientists have duties to honestly articulate uncertainties and manage (some) inductive risks, or the risks of being wrong in different ways. (shrink)
How should we theorize about the social world? How can we integrate theories, models and approaches from seemingly incompatible disciplines? Does theory affect social reality? This state-of-the-art collection addresses contemporary methodological questions and interdisciplinary developments in the philosophy of social science. Facilitating a mutually enriching dialogue, chapters by leading social scientists are followed by critical evaluations from philosophers of social science. This exchange showcases recent major theoretical and methodological breakthroughs and challenges in the social sciences, as well as fruitful ways (...) in which the analytic tools developed in philosophy of science can be applied to understand these advancements. The volume covers a diverse range of principles, methods, innovations and applications, including scientific and methodological pluralism, performativity of theories, causal inferences and applications of social science to policy and business. Taking a practice-orientated and interactive approach, it offers a new philosophy of social science grounded in and relevant to the emerging social science practice. (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)
In Economics Rules, Dani Rodrik (2015) argues that what makes economics powerful despite the limitations of each and every model is its diversity of models. Rodrik suggests that the diversity of models in economics improves its explanatory capacities, but he does not fully explain how. I offer a clearer picture of how models relate to explanations of particular economic facts or events, and suggest that the diversity of models is a means to better economic explanations.
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 this paper we take a close look at current interdisciplinary modeling practices in the environmental sciences, and suggest that closer attention needs to be paid to the nature of scientific practices when investigating and planning interdisciplinarity. While interdisciplinarity is often portrayed as a medium of novel and transformative methodological work, current modeling strategies in the environmental sciences are conservative, avoiding methodological conflict, while confining interdisciplinary interactions to a relatively small set of pre-existing modeling frameworks and strategies (a process we (...) call crystallization). We argue that such practices can be rationalized as responses in part to cognitive constraints which restrict interdisciplinary work. We identify four salient integrative modeling strategies in environmental sciences, and argue that this crystallization, while contradicting somewhat the novel goals many have for interdisciplinarity, makes sense when considered in the light of common disciplinary practices and cognitive constraints. These results provide cause to rethink in more concrete methodological terms what interdisciplinarity amounts to, and what kinds of interdisciplinarity are obtainable in the environmental sciences and elsewhere. (shrink)
La discusión acerca de los modelos en ciencias sociales, en particular en economía, es central a la disciplina, especialmente si se intenta mediante estas construcciones teóricas no sólo comprender sino también transformar el mundo social. ¿Qué son los modelos? ¿Para qué sirven? ¿Cómo tienen que ser? Estas preguntas se encuadran en la cuestión acerca de cómo tiene que ser la economía como ciencia en el marco de la epistemología de la economía. Popper, Lawson y Mӓki se plantean estas preguntas y (...) ofrecen posiciones diferentes respecto de la naturaleza, el uso, y el alcance de los modelos. Las propuestas de estos autores aportan en nuestro tiempo al debate acerca de cómo debe ser la economía como ciencia y sus métodos para poder explicar y predecir en el mundo social. (shrink)
The present paper tries to show that in the discussion on whether it is better to model or not to capture truth in the social world, that is not what is mainly being discussed. We put forward that the main question in this discussion is, essentially, ontological, not methodological. As a representative of the “to model position” we will refer to Uskali Mäki’s Possible Realism, and as one ofthe “notto model position” we will consider Tony Lawson’s Critical Realism. What will (...) be argued isthat the main differences between these positions asregards methodology to access the social world, lie in the different ontologies about the social realm. It will also be introduced ifthere is any possibility of an “in between position”, or atleastthe chance of a dialogue between these different epistemological trends. (shrink)
In recent years, several authors advocated neuroscience imperialism, an instance of scientific imperialism whereby neuroscience methods and findings are systematically applied to model and explain phenomena investigated by other disciplines. Calls for neuroscience imperialism target a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, economics, and philosophy. To date, however, neuroscience imperialism has not received detailed attention by philosophers, and the debate concerning its identification and normative assessment is relatively underdeveloped. In this paper, I aim to remedy this situation by making some (...) conceptual distinctions about neuroscience imperialism and by providing a normative assessment of prominent calls in its favour. I shall articulate and defend two interrelated claims that, I argue, undermine prominent calls for neuroscience imperialism. First, the proponents of neuroscience imperialism significantly overstate the evidential and explanatory relevance of neuroscience methods and findings for the disciplines they target. And second, prominent calls for neuroscience imperialism point to an untenable reductionist position, which rests on unsupported empirical and normative presuppositions. To substantiate these two claims, I shall draw on two sets of influential calls for neuroscience imperialism, which respectively target the economic modelling of choice and entrenched philosophical conceptions of free agency. (shrink)
Economists use various models to explain why it is that firms are capable of pricing above marginal cost. In this paper, we will examine two of them: the Cournot and Bertrand duopoly models. Economists generally accept both models as good explanations of the phenomenon, but the two models contradict each other in various important ways. The puzzle is that two inconsistent explanations are both regarded as good explanations for the same phenomenon. This becomes especially worrisome when the two models are (...) offering divergent policy recommendations. This report presents that puzzle by laying out how the two models contradict each other in a myriad of ways and then offers five possible solutions to that puzzle from various economists, philosophers of science, and philosophers of economics. (shrink)
Economic methodologists most often study the relations between models and reality while focusing on the issues of the model's epistemic relevance in terms of its relation to the ‘real world’ and representing the real world in a model. We complement the discussion by bringing the model's constructive mechanisms or self-implementing technologies in play. By this, we mean the elements of the economic model that are aimed at ‘implementing’ it by envisaging the ways to change the reality in order to bring (...) it more in line with the model. We are thus concerned mainly not with the ways to change the model to ‘fit’ the reality, but rather with the model's own armature that is supposed to transform the world along theoretical lines. The case we study is Arrow–Debreu–McKenzie general equilibrium model. In particular, we show the following: gradient methods and stability could be regarded as constructive mechanisms of general equilibrium modeling in the context of market socialism debates; the obsession of general eq.. (shrink)
En su reciente obra Tony Lawson nos invita a recorrer una vez más un análisis detallado de los problemas de la economía como ciencia, y en particular del modelar matemático. Intenta responder a preguntas como ¿qué hacen los economistas académicos modernos?, ¿qué es actualmente la economía mainstream?, ¿qué esla economía neoclásica y qué la heterodoxa?, ¿cómo se relacionan las preocupaciones de los economistas modernos con aquellas que tradicionalmente consideraba la disciplina? y ¿cómo llegó la economía a su estado actual?
I distinguish several doctrines that economic methodologists have found attractive, all of which have a positivist flavour. One of these is the doctrine that preference assignments in economics are just shorthand descriptions of agents' choice behaviour. Although most of these doctrines are problematic, the latter doctrine about preference assignments is a respectable one, I argue. It doesn't entail any of the problematic doctrines, and indeed it is warranted independently of them.
Over the last decade, neuroeconomic research has attracted increasing attention by economic modellers and methodologists. In this paper, I examine five issues about neuroeconomic modelling and methodology that have recently been subject to considerable controversy. For each issue, I explicate and appraise prominent neuroeconomists' findings, focusing on those that are claimed to directly inform economic theorizing. Moreover, I assess often-made assertions concerning how neuroeconomic research putatively advances the economic modelling of choice. In doing so, I combine review and critical arguments (...) to provide a methodological evaluation of neuroeconomists' contributions. (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)
The paper reviews the philosophical literature on the epistemology of modelling in contemporary economics. In particular, it focuses on open questions concerning the epistemic role of models, the validity of inferences from the models to the world, and the legitimacy of their use for purposes of explanation, prediction and intervention.
El presente trabajo intenta mostrar a la “Nueva Mainstream Más Pluralista” como un camino para abrir al diálogo entre la heterodoxia, que rechaza el insistente uso de modelos formales mainstream para acceder al mundo social complejo, y la ortodoxia que defiende el uso de tales modelos para conocer el mundo social. Como representante de los defensores de los modelos formales mainstream nos referiremos a la epistemología de Uskali Mäki y como crítico de tales modelos a la propuesta de Tony Lawson. (...) Explicitaremos las razones por las que estos autores sostienen sus posiciones, mostraremos qué es la “Nueva Mainstream Más Pluralista” y la propondremos como una manera de acercar a quienes adhieren a perspectivas tan diferentes respecto del uso de los modelos en las ciencias económicas. (shrink)
There continues to be significant confusion about the goals, scope, and nature of modelling practice in neuroeconomics. This article aims to dispel some such confusion by using one of the most recent critiques of neuroeconomic modelling as a foil. The article argues for two claims. First, currently, for at least some economic model of choice behaviour, the benefits derivable from neurally informing an economic model do not involve special tractability costs. Second, modelling in neuroeconomics is best understood within Marr’s three-level (...) of analysis framework and in light of a co-evolutionary research ideology. The first claim is established by elucidating the relationship between the tractability of a model, its descriptive accuracy, and its number of variables. The second claim relies on an explanation of what it can take to neurally inform an economic model of choice behaviour. 1 Introduction2 Neurally Informed Models of Choice: A Case Study2.1 A case study on risk-sensitive choice2.1.1 Target and modelling framework2.1.2 Research question and hypotheses2.1.3 Competitive models of risk-sensitive behaviour2.1.4 Model-based fMRI: from economics to brains and back2.2 Neurally informed modelling3 Tractability: When Does Size Matter?4 Neural Integration and the Co-evolutionary Research Ideology5 Conclusion. (shrink)
F.A. Hayek essentially quit economic theory and gave up the phenomena of industrial fluctuations as an explicit object of theoretical investigation following the publication of his last work in technical economics, 1941’s The Pure Theory of Capital. Nonetheless, several of Hayek’s more methodologically-oriented writings bear important implications for economic phenomena, especially those of industrial fluctuations. Decisions (usually, for Hayek, of a political nature) taken on the basis of a “pretence” of knowledge impede the operation of the price system’s belief-coordinating function (...) and thereby contribute to episodes of economic disequilibrium. Moreover, this later account – which I call Hayek’s epistemic theory of industrial fluctuations – implies certain aspects of his earlier theory. The two accounts are connected in virtue of the role that ignorance and the limits of human knowledge play in each. Indeed, it turns out that – substantively, if not methodologically – Hayek’s early theory of the cycle is a special case of the more general epistemic account. (shrink)
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)
Proponents of neuroeconomics often argue that better knowledge of the human neural architecture enables economists to improve standard models of choice. In their view, these improvements provide compelling reasons to use neural findings in constructing and evaluating economic models. In a recent article, I criticized this view by pointing to the trade-offs between the modeling desiderata valued by neuroeconomists and other economists, respectively. The present article complements my earlier critique by focusing on three modeling desiderata that figure prominently in economic (...) and neuroeconomic modeling. For each desideratum, I examine findings that neuroeconomists deem to be especially relevant for economists and argue that neuroeconomists have failed to substantiate their calls to use these findings in constructing and evaluating economic models. In doing so, I identify methodological and evidential constraints that will continue to hinder neuroeconomists’ attempts to improve such models. Moreover, I draw on the literature on scientific modeling to advance the ongoing philosophical discussion regarding the prospects of interdisciplinary models of choice. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Nancy Cartwright’s critique of economic models. Cartwright argues that economics fails to build relevant “nomological machines” able to isolate capacities. In this paper, I contend that many economic models are not used as nomological machines. I give some evidence for this claim and build on an inferential and pragmatic approach to economic modeling. Modeling in economics responds to peculiar inferential norms where a “good” model is essentially a model that enhances our knowledge about possible worlds. As a (...) consequence, models and experiments are very different knowledge-producing devices, at least in economics. (shrink)
Social research, from economics to demography and epidemiology, makes extensive use of statistical models in order to establish causal relations. The question arises as to what guarantees the causal interpretation of such models. In this paper we focus on econometrics and advance the view that causal models are ‘augmented’ statistical models that incorporate important causal information which contributes to their causal interpretation. The primary objective of this paper is to argue that causal claims are established on the basis of a (...) plurality of evidence. We discuss the consequences of ‘evidential pluralism’ in the context of econometric modelling. (shrink)
In this topical section, we highlight the next step of research on modeling aiming to contribute to the emerging literature that radically refrains from approaching modeling as a scientific endeavor. Modeling surpasses “doing science” because it is frequently incorporated into decision-making processes in politics and management, i.e., areas which are not solely epistemically oriented. We do not refer to the production of models in academia for abstract or imaginary applications in practical fields, but instead highlight the real entwinement of science (...) and policy and the real erosion of their boundaries. Models in decision making – due to their strong entwinement with policy and management – are utilized differently than models in science; they are employed for different purposes and with different constraints. We claim that “being a part of decision-making” implies that models are elements of a very particular situation, in which knowledge about the present and the future is limited but dependence of decisions on the future is distinct. Emphasis on the future indicates that decisions are made about actions that have severe and lasting consequences. In these specific situations, models enable not only the acquisition of knowledge (the primary goal of science) but also enable deciding upon actions that change the course of events. As a result, there are specific ways to construct effective models and justify their results. Although some studies have explored this topic, our understanding of how models contribute to decision making outside of science remains fragmentary. This topical section aims to fill this gap in research and formulate an agenda for additional and more systematic investigations in the field. (shrink)
This paper discusses the epistemic import of highly abstract and simplified theoretical models using Thomas Schelling’s checkerboard model as an example. We argue that the epistemic contribution of theoretical models can be better understood in the context of a cluster of models relevant to the explanatory task at hand. The central claim of the paper is that theoretical models make better sense in the context of a menu of possible explanations. In order to justify this claim, we introduce a distinction (...) between causal scenarios and causal mechanism schemes. These conceptual tools help us to articulate the basis for modelers’ intuitive confidence that their models make an important epistemic contribution. By focusing on the role of the menu of possible explanations in the evaluation of explanatory hypotheses, it is possible to understand how a causal mechanism scheme can improve our explanatory understanding even in cases where it does not describe the actual cause of a particular phenomenon. (shrink)
Julian Reiss correctly identified a trilemma about economic models: we cannot maintain that they are false, but nevertheless explain and that only true accounts explain. In this reply we give reasons to reject the second premise ? that economic models explain. Intuitions to the contrary should be distrusted.
We argue that the Soros account of reflexivity does not provide a clear-cut distinction between a social science such as economics and the physical sciences. It is pointed out that the participants who attempt to learn from refutations of conjectures in the Soros world are likely to be haunted by the Duhem–Quine problem of conjointness of hypotheses and unfocused refutation. On a more constructive note, we argue that models of inductive learning, in which participants form conjectures on the basis of (...) strictly limited information sets, can capture the basic thrust of the Soros position. The conjectures are in motion, as the participants attempt to avoid those that are systematically wrong, and there is something vague and uncertain about what can be learned from experience and refutations. The only notion of market efficiency in this world is one contingent on the strictly limited and varied information sets in play. Finally we present a mathematical model and numerical simulations that help justify the causal relationship between reflexivity and far-from-equilibrium dynamics postulated by Soros. (shrink)
This response to Reiss ?explanatory paradox? argues that some economic models might be true, and that many economic models are not intended for providing how-actually explanations, but rather how-possibly explanations. Therefore, two assumptions of Reiss? paradox are not true, and the paradox disappears.