Modelling Inequality

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):691-718 (2018)
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Abstract

Econophysics is a new and exciting cross-disciplinary research field that applies models and modelling techniques from statistical physics to economic systems. It is not, however, without its critics: prominent figures in more mainstream economic theory have criticized some elements of the methodology of econophysics. One of the main lines of criticism concerns the nature of the modelling assumptions and idealizations involved, and a particular target are ‘kinetic exchange’ approaches used to model the emergence of inequality within the distribution of individual monetary income. This article will consider such models in detail, and assess the warrant of the criticisms drawing upon the philosophical literature on modelling and idealization. Our aim is to provide the first steps towards informed mediation of this important and interesting interdisciplinary debate, and our hope is to offer guidance with regard to both the practice of modelling inequality, and the inequality of modelling practice. _1_ Introduction _1.1_ Econophysics and its discontents _1.2_ Against burglar economics _2_ Modelling Inequality _2.1_ Mainstream economic models for income distribution _2.2_ Econophysics models for income distribution _3_ Idealizations in Kinetic Exchange Models _3.1_ Binary interactions _3.2_ Conservation principles _3.3_ Exchange dynamics _ 4 _ Fat Tails and Savings _ 5 _ Evaluation

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Author Profiles

Alexander Reutlinger
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Seamus Bradley
London School of Economics (PhD)
Karim Thebault
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Understanding (with) Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1069-1099.
Understanding (With) Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx005.
Models on the move: Migration and imperialism.Seamus Bradley & Karim P. Y. Thébault - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77:81-92.
Knowledge transfer and its contexts.Catherine Herfeld & Chiara Lisciandra - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77:1-10.

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.John Von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern - 1944 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.

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