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IDEALIZATION AND THE AIMS OF ECONOMICS: THREE CHEERS FOR INSTRUMENTALISM

IDEALIZATION AND THE AIMS OF ECONOMICS: THREE CHEERS FOR INSTRUMENTALISM This paper aims (a) to provide characterizations of realism and instrumentalism that are philosophically interesting and applicable to economics; and (b) to defend instrumentalism against realism as a methodological stance in economics. Starting point is the observation that ‘all models are false’, which, or so I argue, is difficult to square with the realist's aim of truth, even if the latter is understood as ‘partial’ or ‘approximate’. The three cheers in favour of instrumentalism are: (1) Once we have usefulness, truth is redundant. (2) There is something disturbing about causal structure. (3) It's better to do what one can than to chase rainbows. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economics & Philosophy Cambridge University Press

IDEALIZATION AND THE AIMS OF ECONOMICS: THREE CHEERS FOR INSTRUMENTALISM

Economics & Philosophy , Volume 28 (3): 21 – Nov 28, 2012

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Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012
ISSN
1474-0028
eISSN
0266-2671
DOI
10.1017/S0266267112000284
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper aims (a) to provide characterizations of realism and instrumentalism that are philosophically interesting and applicable to economics; and (b) to defend instrumentalism against realism as a methodological stance in economics. Starting point is the observation that ‘all models are false’, which, or so I argue, is difficult to square with the realist's aim of truth, even if the latter is understood as ‘partial’ or ‘approximate’. The three cheers in favour of instrumentalism are: (1) Once we have usefulness, truth is redundant. (2) There is something disturbing about causal structure. (3) It's better to do what one can than to chase rainbows.

Journal

Economics & PhilosophyCambridge University Press

Published: Nov 28, 2012

References