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Catherine Herfeld
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Catherine Herfeld
University of Zürich
  1.  50
    Explaining Patterns, Not Details: Reevaluating Rational Choice Models in Light of Their Explananda.Catherine Herfeld - 2018 - Journal of Economic Methodology 25 (2):179-209.
    It has been argued persistently that economic models frequently suffer from poor empirical performance because they rely upon empirically inadequate behavioral foundations, i.e. theories of rational choice. In this paper, I argue that much of this criticism misses the point: it assumes that economics is about explaining human behavior when in fact, since Adam Smith, economists have been more interested in explaining patterns that emerge from social interaction. While some minimal account of human behavior is needed for explaining such phenomena, (...)
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  2. Imagination Rather Than Observation in Econometrics: Ragnar Frisch’s Hypothetical Experiments as Thought Experiments.Catherine Herfeld - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (1):35-74.
    In economics, thought experiments are frequently justified by the difficulty of conducting controlled experiments. They serve several functions, such as establishing causal facts, isolating tendencies, and allowing inferences from models to reality. In this paper, I argue that thought experiments served a further function in economics: facilitating the quantitative definition and measurement of the theoretical concept of utility, thereby bridging the gap between theory and statistical data. I support my argument by a case study, the “hypothetical experiments” of the Norwegian (...)
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  3.  46
    The Diversity of Rational Choice Theory: A Review Note.Catherine Herfeld - 2020 - Topoi 39 (2):329-347.
    In this paper, I review the literature on rational choice theory to scrutinize a number of criticisms that philosophers have voiced against its usefulness in economics. The paper has three goals: first, I argue that the debates about RCT have been characterized by disunity and confusion about the object under scrutiny, which calls into question the effectiveness of those criticisms. Second, I argue that RCT is not a single and unified choice theory—let alone an empirical theory of human behavior—as some (...)
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  4.  23
    The Many Faces of Rational Choice Theory.Catherine Herfeld - 2013 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 6 (2):117.
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  5.  48
    The Diffusion of Scientific Innovations: A Role Typology.Catherine Herfeld & Malte Doehne - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77:64-80.
    How do scientific innovations spread within and across scientific communities? In this paper, we propose a general account of the diffusion of scientific innovations. This account acknowledges that novel ideas must be elaborated on and conceptually translated before they can be adopted and applied to field-specific problems. We motivate our account by examining an exemplary case of knowledge diffusion, namely, the early spread of theories of rational decision-making. These theories were grounded in a set of novel mathematical tools and concepts (...)
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  6.  36
    From Theories of Human Behavior to Rules of Rational Choice.Catherine Herfeld - 2018 - History of Political Economy 50 (1):1-48.
    This article traces a normative turn between the middle of the 1940s and the early 1950s reflected in the reformulation, interpretation, and use of rational choice theories at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics. This turn is paralleled by a transition from Jacob Marschak’s to Tjalling Koopmans’s research program. While rational choice theories initially raised high hopes that they would serve as empirical accounts to inform testable hypotheses about economic regularities, they became increasingly modified and interpreted as normative approaches (...)
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  7.  11
    Understanding the Rationality Principle in Economics as a Functional a Priori Principle.Catherine Herfeld - 2020 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 14):3329-3358.
    Since the early days of economics, the rationality principle has been a core element of economic theorizing. It is part of almost any theoretical framework that economists use to generate knowledge. Despite its central role, the principle’s epistemic status and function continue to be debated between empiricists and rationalists, and a clear winner is yet to emerge. One point of contention is that we cannot explain the principle’s special status in light of clear evidence against its empirical validity and the (...)
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  8.  60
    The Potentials and Limitations of Rational Choice Theory: An Interview with Gary Becker.Catherine Herfeld - 2012 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 5 (1):73-86.
  9.  60
    Book Review: Epstein Brian The Ant Trap : Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 298 Pp. $36.04. ISBN 978-0-19-938110-4. [REVIEW]Francesco Di Iorio & Catherine Herfeld - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (1):105-128.
  10. In Favor of Mentalism in Economics: A Conversation with Christian List.Christian List & Catherine Herfeld - forthcoming - In Catherine Herfeld (ed.), Conversations on Rational Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This is an edited transcript of a conversation to be included in the collection "Conversations on Rational Choice". The conversation was conducted in Munich on 7 and 9 February 2016.
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  11.  8
    Revisiting the Criticisms of Rational Choice Theories.Catherine Herfeld - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (1):e12774.
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  12.  14
    Thick Concepts in Economics: The Case of Becker and Murphy’s Theory of Rational Addiction.Catherine Herfeld & Charles Djordjevic - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (4):371-399.
    In this paper, we examine the viability of avoiding value judgments encoded in thick concepts when these concepts are used in economic theories. We focus on what implications the use of such thick concepts might have for the tenability of the fact/value dichotomy in economics. Thick concepts have an evaluative and a descriptive component. Our suggestion is that despite attempts to rid thick concepts of their evaluative component, economists are often not successful. We focus on the strategy of explication to (...)
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  13.  16
    Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics, Ivan Moscati. Oxford University Press, 2019, Vii + 326 Pages. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (1):144-150.
  14.  16
    Introduction: First Principles in Science—Their Status and Justification.Catherine Herfeld & Milena Ivanova - 2020 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 14):3297-3308.
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  15.  33
    Book Review: Zahle, Julie, Collin, FinnRethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate, Berlin: Springer, 2014. 255 Pp. $129 . ISBN: 978-3-319-05342-1. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (2):247-261.
    Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate edited by Julie Zahle and Finn Collin is reviewed. Each of the contributions contained in the volume is summarized. The review concludes by assessing the volume’s usefulness for bringing clarity into the debate in the light of the editors’ self-set goal of rethinking the individualism-holism debate as one of the more important yet confused debates in philosophy of the social sciences.
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  16.  27
    The Importance of Commitment for Morality: How Harry Frankfurt’s Concept of Care Contributes to Rational Choice Theory.Catherine Herfeld & Katrien Schaubroeck - 2013 - In Bert Musschenga & Anton van Harskamp (eds.), What Makes Us Moral? On the capacities and conditions for being moral. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 51-72.
    Using Rational Choice Theory to account for moral agency has always had some uncomfortable aspect to it. Economists’ attempts to include the moral dimension of behaviour either as a preference for moral behaviour or as an external constraint on self-interested choice, have been criticized for relying on tautologies or lacking a realistic picture of motivation. Homo Oeconomicus, even when conceptually enriched by all kinds of motivations, is ultimately still characterized as caring only for what lies in his interest. Amartya Sen (...)
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  17.  49
    The Motive of Commitment and Its Implications for Rational Choice Theory.Catherine Herfeld - 2009 - Analyse & Kritik 31 (2):291-317.
    This paper addresses the explanatory role of the concept of a motive for action in economics. The aim of the paper is to show the difficulty economists have to accommodate the motive of commitment into their explanatory and predictive framework, i.e. rational choice theory. One difficulty is that the economists’ explanation becomes analytic when assuming preferences of commitment. Another difficulty is that it is highly doubtful whether commitment can be represented by current frameworks while serving the ‘folk-psychological’ idea of what (...)
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  18.  25
    Review: Marcel Boumans: Science Outside the Laboratory. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
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  19.  22
    Book Review: How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind. The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality, Paul Erickson, Judy Klein, Lorraine Daston, Rebecca Lemov, Thomas Sturm, Michael D. Gordin. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London . 272 Pp. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2015 - Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 56:88-90.
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  20. Conversations on Rational Choice.Catherine Herfeld (ed.) - forthcoming - Cambridge University Press.
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  21.  12
    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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  22.  13
    Rational Choice as a Toolbox for the Economist: An Interview with Itzhak Gilboa.Catherine Herfeld - 2014 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 7 (2):116-141.
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  23.  18
    The World in Axioms: An Interview with Patrick Suppes.Catherine Herfeld - 2016 - Journal of Economic Methodology 23 (3):333-346.
  24.  11
    William Thomas. Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940–1960. Xi + 399 Pp., Figs., Bibl., Index. Cambridge, Mass./London: MIT Press, 2015. $38. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2017 - Isis 108 (1):227-228.
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  25.  10
    Role of Normativity for the Explanation of Norm-Conformity.Catherine Herfeld - unknown
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  26.  8
    How Good Are Economic Explanations of Cooperation? The Role of Motivation and Normativity for Explaining Norm-Conformity.Catherine Herfeld - unknown
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  27.  5
    Book Review: Defending the History of Economic Thought. By Steven Kates. Cheltenham, U.K. And Northampton, Mass.: Elgar, 2013. Pp. X, 140. $99.95. ISBN 978–1–84844–820–9. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2014 - Journal of Economic Literature 52 (4):1160-1196.
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