Autodetermination in Microeconomics – A Methodological Case Study on the Theory of Demand

Analyse & Kritik 26 (2):319-345 (2004)

Olaf L. Müller
Humboldt-University, Berlin
My philosophical case study concerns textbook presentations of the theory of demand. Does this theory contain anything more than just a collection of tautologies? In order to determine its empirical content, it must be viewed holistically. But then, the theory implies false factual claims. We can avoid this result by embracing the theory’s normative character. The resulting consequences will be illuminated with the new autodetermination thesis recently proposed in the philosophy of physics by Oliver Timmer. Applying his ideas to the theory of demand reveals that the statements of this discipline simultaneously concern both values and facts.
Keywords Hilary PUTNAM  Milton FRIEDMAN  David KREPS  Iris MURDOCH  Paul SAMUELSON  Wolfgang STEGMÜLLER  Oliver TIMMER  Hal VARIAN  structuralism  theory of demand
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