The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

Does economic theory need more evidence?: a balancing of arguments

Anand, Paul (2003). Does economic theory need more evidence?: a balancing of arguments. Journal of Economic Methodology, 10(4) pp. 441–463.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1350178032000130457
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

This article seeks to provide a characterization of theory prevalent in economics and found in many areas of social and natural science, particularly those that make increasing use of rational choice perspectives. Four kinds of theoretical project are identified in which empirical evidence plays a relatively small role in theory acceptance. The paper associates the minor role of evidence in theory formation and acceptance to a need to answer counterfactual questions and argues that is not necessarily incompatible with accounts of science that emphasise truth in the development of theory. However, this view of economics does highlight factors that play a central role in theory acceptance which have not featured very strongly, if at all, in the philosophy of science literature. The article goes on to discuss four areas of economics that illustrate the consequences of using theory acceptance procedures which give relatively little weight to empirical testing. Benefits and costs of counterfactual science as it has developed in economics are discussed. It is concluded that there are good reasons why scientists may not use evidence in theory acceptance, even if an unintended consequence has been to strip economics of valuable empirical sensibilities still evident in natural sciences.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 1350-178X
Keywords: foundations of economic theory; theory acceptance; counterfactuals; role of evidence; economic methodology; Philosophy of Science
Academic Unit/Department: Social Sciences > Economics
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG)
Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 4437
Depositing User: Users 13 not found.
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2006
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 19:51
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/4437
Share this page:

Actions (login may be required)

View Item
Report issue / request change

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340   general-enquiries@open.ac.uk