Building and using economic models: a case study analysis of the IS-LL model

Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (2):191-212 (2002)
Abstract
This paper critically assesses several model accounts written in the 1990s by epistemologists and philosophers of science by relating them to a specific but crucial example of model building, namely Hicks's (1937) construction of the first version of the IS-LM model, and examining in how far these accounts apply to this case. Thereby the paper contributes to answering why and how economists build models. The view crystallizes that economists build models not only to facilitate the conceptual exploration of theory, but also to inform our understanding of the world. Elements of model building, such as analogies, metaphors, stories, theoretical notions, empirical findings and mathematizations, but also the mode of representation shape the model and largely determine how much can be learned about theory and the real world by using the model as a tool.
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