PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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A Defense of Equilibrium Reasoning in Economics

This paper argues that philosophers of science often misunderstand the rationale behind economic idealizations, especially equilibrium reasoning. Philosophers typically assume that a science’s goal is to predict a system will (autonomous) evolution over time, yet economics seems neither to succeed nor aim at doing such a thing. Substantial analogues with other sciences such as thermodynamics clarifies the rationale behind equilibrium reasoning, pointing toward a wider conception of scientific understanding at play in both fields and suggesting useful contemporary modeling strategies that economists should explore, in particular newer multi-scale modeling methods as a route to understanding, designing, and testing for stability.

Author Information:

Jennifer Jhun    
University of Pittsburgh


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