Philosophy of Science 82 (4):689-711 (2015)

Authors
Kevin Hoover
Duke University
Abstract
Macroeconomists overwhelmingly believe that macroeconomics requires microfoundations, typically understood as a strong eliminativist reductionism. Microfoundations aims to recover intentionality. In the face of technical and data constraints macroeconomists typically employ a representative-agent model, in which a single agent solves the microeconomic optimization problem for the whole economy, and take it to be microfoundationally adequate. The characteristic argument for the representative-agent model holds that the possibility of the sequential elaboration of the model to cover any number of individual agents justifies treating the policy conclusions of the single-agent model as practically relevant. This eschatological justification is examined and rejected
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DOI 10.1086/682917
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