Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-ct24h Total loading time: 0.342 Render date: 2022-05-21T20:05:27.160Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Problems with Realism in Economics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

Daniel M. Hausman
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and University of Wisconsin–Madison

Extract

This essay attempts to distinguish the pressing issues for economists and economic methodologists concerning realism in economics from those issues that are of comparatively slight importance. In particular I shall argue that issues concerning the goals of science are of considerable interest in economics, unlike issues concerning the evidence for claims about unobservables, which have comparatively little relevance. In making this argument, this essay raises doubts about the two programs in contemporary economic methodology that raise the banner of realism. In particular I argue that the banner makes it more difficult to relate the concerns of those who wave it (Tony Lawson and Uskali Mäki) to those of other methodologists. Although this essay argues that many of the debates in this century between scientific realists and their opponents are not relevant to economics, it does not attack scientific realism, and it does not urge economists or economic methodologists to reject it.

Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1998

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Becker, Gary. 1976. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
Bhaskar, Roy. 1978. A Realist Theory of Science. Harvester PressGoogle Scholar
Bhaskar, Roy. 1979. The Possibility of Naturalism. Harvester PressGoogle Scholar
Boland, L. 1979. ‘A critique of Friedman's critics’. Journal of Economic Literature, 17:503–22Google Scholar
Boyd, Richard. 1983. ‘On the current status of scientific realism’. Erkenntnis, 19:4590. Reprinted in Richard Boyd, Philip Gasper, and J. D. Trout (eds.). The Philosophy of Science. MIT Press, 1991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boylan, Thomas and O'Gorman, Paschal. 1995. Beyond Rhetoric and Realism in Economics: Towards a Reformulation of Economic Methodology. RoutledgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carnap, Rudolf. 1939. Foundations of Logic and Mathematics. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, Vol. 1, No. 3. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
Churchland, Paul and Hooker, Clifford (eds.). 1985. Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
Devitt, Michael. 1984. Realism and Truth. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
Duhem, P. [1906] 1954. The Aim and Structure of Scientific Theories. Trans. Wiener, P.. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
Frank, Philipp. 1988. The Law of Causality and its Limits. Cohen, Robert (ed.). Trans. Marie Neurath and Robert Cohen. KluwerGoogle Scholar
Friedman, Milton. 1953. ‘The methodology of positive economies’. In Essays in Positive Economics, pp. 343. University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
Hausman, Daniel. 1992a. The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics. Cambridge University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hausman, Daniel. 1992b. ‘Why look under the hood’? In Essays on Philosophy and Economic Methodology, pp. 70–3. Cambridge University Press. Reprinted in The Philosophy of Economics, 2nd edn., pp. 217–21. Daniel Hausman (ed.). Cambridge University Press, 1994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hausman, Daniel. 1998. ‘Explanation and diagnosis in economies’. Revue Internationale de PhilosophieGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, Mark. 1996. Decision Theory as Philosophy. Cambridge University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lancaster, Kelvin. 1966. ‘A new approach to consumer theory’. Journal of Political Economy, 74:132–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lawson, Tony. 1997. Economics and Reality. RoutledgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leplin, Jarrett. (ed.). 1984. Scientific Realism. University of California PressGoogle Scholar
Lester, Richard. 1946. ‘Shortcomings of marginal analysis for wage-employment problems’. American Economic Review, 36:6282Google Scholar
Machlup, Fritz. 1955. ‘The problem of verification in economies’. Southern Economic Journal, 22:121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Machlup, Fritz. 1956. ‘Rejoinder to a reluctant ultra-empiricist’. Southern Economic Journal, 22:483–93; Reprinted as ‘On indirect verification’ in The Philosophy of Economics: An Anthology. 2nd edn., pp. 168–79. Daniel Hausman (ed.). Cambridge University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Machlup, Fritz. 1960. ‘Operational concepts and mental constructs in model and theory formation’. Giornale Degli Economisti, 19:553–82Google Scholar
Machlup, Fritz. 1964. ‘Professor Samuelson on theory and realism’. American Economic Review, 54:733–6Google Scholar
Mäki, Uskali. 1990. ‘Mengerian economics in realist perspective’. In Carl Menger and His Legacy in Economics. Caldwell, Bruce (ed.). History of Political Economy, Supplement, 22:289310Google Scholar
Mäki, Uskali. 1992. ‘The market as an isolated causal process: a metaphysical ground for realism’. In Austrian Economics: Tensions and New Directions, pp. 3559. Caldwell, Bruce and Boehm, Stephan (eds.). KluwerCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mäki, Uskali. 1996a. ‘Scientific realism and some peculiarities of economies’. In Realism and Anti-Realism in the Philosophy of Science, pp. 427–47. Cohen, R. S., Hilpinen, R. and Renzong, Qiu (eds.). KluwerCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mäki, Uskali. 1996b. ‘Two portraits of economies’. Journal of Economic Methodology, 3:138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mäki, Uskali. 1998. ‘Realism’. In The Handbook of Economic Methodology, pp. 404–9. Davis, John, Hands, D. Wade, and Maki, Uskali (eds.). Edward ElgarGoogle Scholar
Mongin, Philippe. 1988. ‘Le réalism des hypothèses et la partial interpretation view’. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 18:281325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morgenbesser, Sidney. 1960. ‘The realist-instrumentalist controversy’. In Philosophy, Science, and Method, pp. 106–22. Morgenbesser, Sidney, Suppes, Patrick, and White, Morton (eds.). Harcourt, Brace & WorldGoogle Scholar
Nagel, Ernest. 1959. The Structure of Science. Harcourt, Brace & WorldGoogle Scholar
Putnam, Hilary. 19751976. ‘What is realism?Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 76:177–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rosenberg, Alexander. 1976. Microeconomic Laws: A Philosophical Analysis. University of Pittsburgh PressGoogle Scholar
Samuelson, Paul. 1963. ‘Problems of methodology-discussion’. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 53:232–6Google Scholar
Shapere, Dudley. 1982. ‘The concept of observation in science and philosophy’. Philosophy of Science, 49:485525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Fraassen, B. 1980. The Scientific Image. Oxford University PressCrossRefGoogle Scholar
31
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Problems with Realism in Economics
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Problems with Realism in Economics
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Problems with Realism in Economics
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *