Reflection without Rules offers a comprehensive, pointed exploration of the methodological tradition in economics and the breakdown of the received view within the philosophy of science. Professor Hands investigates economists' use of naturalistic and sociological paradigms to model economic phenomena and assesses the roles of pragmatism, discourse, and situatedness in discussions of economic practice before turning to a systematic exploration of more recent developments in economic methodology. The treatment emphasizes the changes taking place in science theory and its relationship to (...) the movement away from a rules-based view of economic methodology. The work will be of interest to all economists concerned with methodological issues as well as philosophers and others studying the relationships between economics and contemporary science theory. (shrink)
This paper examines methodological issues raised by revealed preference theory in economics: particularly contemporary revealed preference theory. The paper has three goals. First, to make the case that revealed preference theory is a broad research program in choice theory—not a single theory—and understanding this diversity is essential to any methodological analysis of the program. Second, to explore some of the existing criticisms of revealed preference theory in a way that emphasizes how the effectiveness of the critique depends on the particular (...) version of revealed preference under consideration. Finally, three additional criticisms are presented that are aimed specifically at contemporary revealed preference theory. (shrink)
The relationship between economics and the philosophy of natural science has changed substantially during the last few years. What was once exclusively a one-way relationship from philosophy to economics now seems to be much closer to bilateral exchange. The purpose of this paper is to examine this new relationship. First, I document the change. Second, I examine the situation within contemporary philosophy of science in order to explain why economics might have its current appeal. Third, I consider some of the (...) issues that might jeopardize the success of this philosophical project. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine the normative interpretation of the fast-and-frugal research program and in particular to contrast it with the normative reading of rational choice theory and behavioral economics. The ecological rationality of fast-and-frugal heuristics is admittedly a form of normative naturalism – it derives what agents “ought” to do from that which “is” ecologically rational – and the paper will examine how this differs from the normative rationality associated with rational choice theory. I will also (...) attempt to assess the relative adequacy of normative ecological rationality. (shrink)
This paper challenges Mäki's argument about commonsensibles by offering a case study from contemporary microeconomics – contemporary revealed preference theory (hereafter CRPT) – where terms like "preference," "utility," and to some extent "choice," are radical departures from the common sense meanings of these terms. Although the argument challenges the claim that economics is inhabited solely by commonsensibles, it is not inconsistent with such folk notions being common in economic theory.
The paper traces the sequence of events which brought Popperian philosophy (including Lakatos) to its position on the issues of excess content, novelty and scientific progress. The general approach is to analyze Popper's and Lakatos's positions on these issues as an appropriate response to a particular philosophical problem situation in which they found themselves. The paper closes with a discussion of how these issues relate to economics and economic methodology.
This paper examines two conflicting views that have emerged within the recent methodological literature regarding the relationship between Friedman 's famous essay and the formalist revolution. I focus on three influential contributors to this ongoing debate: Mark Blaug, Terence Hutchison, and Thomas Mayer. Blaug and Hutchison have argued repeatedly that Friedman 's essay licensed the formalist revolution while Mayer has argued precisely the opposite; the formalist revolution was a result of not following Friedman 's methodological advice. The juxtaposition of these (...) views is particularly interesting since the authors disagree sharply about the impact of Friedman 's essay, and yet seem to agree about most other aspects of economic methodology. (shrink)
Abstract: The literature on economic methodology has exploded during the last two decades, and yet there really hasn't been any progress on the central methodological question of twenty years ago: What are the exact methodological rules that economists should follow in order to produce legitimate scientific knowledge? In this paper I argue that the lack of progress on this narrow traditional question does not reflect negatively on the efforts of those doing research in economic methodology; rather, it is simply a (...) reflection of broader developments taking place within philosophy and science theory. Not only do these developments explain the lack of progress on the traditional question, they have also contributed to the growth of a more broadly defined field of methodological inquiry. If one defines the new economic methodology as any inquiry involving both economics and science theory, then the recent literature has shown substantial progress. A new more broadly defined field would certainly include traditional questions, but it would also include the rhetoric of economics, the sociology of economics, non-philosophy-of-science-based philosophical inquiry into economics, the economics of scientific knowledge, and much more. I provide thirteen theses on progress in this more broadly defined field of the new economic methodology. (shrink)
In Stabilizing Dynamics Roy Weintraub provides a history of stability theory from the work of Hicks and Samuelson in the late 1930s to the Gale and Scarf counterexamples in the 1960s. Unlike his earlier work in the history of general equilibrium theory this recent contribution is not an attempt to fit the Walrasian program into the narrow framework of some particular philosophy of natural science. Rather, the theme in Stabilizing Dynamics is broadly social constructivist. Simply put, the constructivist view of (...) science is “that scientific knowledge itself is constructed socially, in communities of scientists: Knowledge is constructed, not found”. (shrink)
Abstract: Don Ross’ Economic Theory and Cognitive Science (2005) provides an elaborate philosophical defense of neoclassical economics. He argues that the central features of neoclassical theory are associated with what he calls the Robbins-Samuelson argument pattern and that it can be reconciled with recent developments in experimental and behavioral economics, as well as contemporary cognitive science. This paper argues that Ross’ Robbins-Samuelson argument pattern is not in the work of either Robbins or Samuelson and in many ways is in conflict (...) with their own versions, and defenses, of neoclassical theory. (shrink)
Abstract: The paper argues that mainstream economics and mainstream philosophy of natural science had much in common during the period 1945-1965. It examines seven common features of the two fields and suggests a number of historical developments that might help explain these similarities. The historical developments include: the Vienna Circle connection, the Samuelson-Harvard-Foundations connection, and the Cold War operations research connection.
The article presents the author's perspectives regarding the book "The Significance and Basic Postulates of Economic Theory," by Terence Wilmot Hutchison. He emphasizes two important general themes that emerge from the symposium in total, the great breadth of Hutchison's contribution to economic methodology and a brief introduction on the four individual papers. He mentions some people including Roger Backhouse, John Hart and Ross Emmett as well as the comments of each about Hutchison's works.
Abstract: This paper examines Mark Blaug's position on the normative character of Paretian welfare economics: in general, and specifically with respect to his debate with Pieter Hennipman over this question during the 1990s. The paper also clarifies some of the confusions that emerged within the context of this debate, and closes by providing some additional arguments supporting Blaug's position that he himself did not provide.
This book brings together ten previously published essays on the philosophy of economics and economic methodology. The general theme is the application of Karl Popper's philosophy of science to economics -- not only by Popper himself but also by other members of the "Popperian school." There are three major issues that surface repeatedly: the applicability of Popper's falsificationist philosophy of science; the applicability of I. Lakatos's "methodology of scientific research programs" to economics; and the question of Popper's "situational analysis" approach (...) to social science. (shrink)
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