Economic models as mini-theories

Journal of Economic Methodology 8 (2):275-285 (2001)
Economic thinking is largely the construction of models and their use in various cognitive activities. So, understanding the conduct of inquiry in economics requires understanding economic models and their various uses. This paper connects models to a somewhat improved version of Laudan's distinction between mini-theories and global theories. Specifically, the paper indicates that economic models are mini-theories, and says something about the relations between models and the broader networks of beliefs that constitute global theories in economics. But the claim that models are mini-theories is intended as an initial and only partial account of the nature of models. As this paper indicates, viewing models as minitheories leaves room for adopting some further, more penetrating account of the nature of models, and underdetermines the choice as to which more profound account of models is selected.
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