Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (3):297-317 (2017)

Philippe Verreault-Julien
London School of Economics
How can we use models to understand real phenomena if models misrepresent the very phenomena we seek to understand? Some accounts suggest that models may afford understanding by providing causal knowledge about phenomena via how-possibly explanations. However, general equilibrium models, for example, pose a challenge to this solution since their contribution appears to be purely mathematical results. Despite this, practitioners widely acknowledge that it improves our understanding of the world. I argue that the Arrow–Debreu model provides a mathematical how-possibly explanation which establishes claims of mathematical dependence. The account developed reveals how mathematical knowledge can inform claims about the world, allow ‘what-if-things-had-been-different’ inferences, and thus improve our understanding.
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DOI 10.1080/1350178X.2017.1335424
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Understanding Does Not Depend on (Causal) Explanation.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):18.
Understanding with Models.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):133-136.

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