Imagining the imaginable: a reinterpretation of the function of economists' concern about structural isomorphism in economic theorizing
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Economic Methodology 18 (01):53-78 (2011)
By using a metatheoretical interpretation of the development of international trade theory as an example, I illustrate that, as is manifested in the practices of economic theorization, a theoretical representation can be decomposed into two component representations: a formal representation and a causal narrative representation. I further maintain that, with respect to both component representations, the concern of isomorphism is important in that it is the guiding idea that underlies economists' practice of identifying both an adequate formal model and a plausible causal story to represent the targeted phenomenon. As a result, it can be argued that the nature of the representational relation is manifested in the practices of economists as they imagine the imaginable causal stories on the basis of imaginative causal structures depicted in the causal models of the targeted phenomenon.
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