David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (3):334-360 (2008)
Many models in economics are very unrealistic. At the same time, economists put a lot of effort into making their models more realistic. I argue that in many cases, including the Modigliani-Miller irrelevance theorem investigated in this paper, the purpose of this process of concretization is explanatory. When evaluated in combination with their assumptions, a highly unrealistic model may well be true. The purpose of relaxing an unrealistic assumption, then, need not be to move from a false model to a true one. Instead, it may be providing an explanation of some phenomenon by invoking the factor that figures in the assumption. This idea is developed in terms of the contrastive account of explanation. It is argued that economists use highly unrealistic assumptions to determine a contrast that is worth explaining. The process of concretization also motivates new explanatory questions. A high degree of explanatory power, then, may well be due to a high number of unrealistic assumptions. Thus, highly unrealistic models can be powerful explanatory engines. Key Words: concretization • explanation • explanatory power • idealization • model • Modigliani-Miller theorem • unrealistic assumption.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
J. Kuorikoski, A. Lehtinen & C. Marchionni (2010). Economic Modelling as Robustness Analysis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):541-567.
Frank Hindriks (2013). The Location Problem in Social Ontology. Synthese 190 (3):413-437.
Jaakko Kuorikoski, Aki Lehtinen & Caterina Marchionni (2012). Robustness Analysis Disclaimer: Please Read the Manual Before Use! Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):891-902.
Frank Hindriks (2013). Explanation, Understanding, and Unrealistic Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):523-531.
Similar books and articles
Satoshi Kanazawa (1998). In Defense of Unrealistic Assumptions. Sociological Theory 16 (2):193-204.
Caterina Marchionni (2006). Contrastive Explanation and Unrealistic Models: The Case of the New Economic Geography. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (4):425-446.
Laura Felline (2011). Scientific Explanation Between Principle and Constructive Theories. Philosophy of Science 78 (5):989-1000.
Aki Lehtinen & Jaakko Kuorikoski (2007). Unrealistic Assumptions in Rational Choice Theory. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (2):115-138.
Alisa Bokulich (2011). How Scientific Models Can Explain. Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
Steven Rappaport (1996). Abstraction and Unrealistic Assumptions in Economics∗. Journal of Economic Methodology 3 (2):215-236.
Carl F. Craver (2006). When Mechanistic Models Explain. Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
Frank A. Hindriks (2005). Unobservability, Tractability and the Battle of Assumptions. Journal of Economic Methodology 12 (3):383-406.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads42 ( #79,003 of 1,725,305 )
Recent downloads (6 months)10 ( #64,836 of 1,725,305 )
How can I increase my downloads?