•  258
    Imagination Rather Than Observation in Econometrics: Ragnar Frisch’s Hypothetical Experiments as Thought Experiments
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (1): 35-74. 2019.
    In economics, thought experiments are frequently justified by the difficulty of conducting controlled experiments. They serve several functions, such as establishing causal facts, isolating tendencies, and allowing inferences from models to reality. In this paper, I argue that thought experiments served a further function in economics: facilitating the quantitative definition and measurement of the theoretical concept of utility, thereby bridging the gap between theory and statistical data. I su…Read more
  •  58
  •  45
    This paper addresses the explanatory role of the concept of a motive for action in economics. The aim of the paper is to show the difficulty economists have to accommodate the motive of commitment into their explanatory and predictive framework, i.e. rational choice theory. One difficulty is that the economists’ explanation becomes analytic when assuming preferences of commitment. Another difficulty is that it is highly doubtful whether commitment can be represented by current frameworks while s…Read more
  •  33
    It has been argued persistently that economic models frequently suffer from poor empirical performance because they rely upon empirically inadequate behavioral foundations, i.e. theories of rational choice. In this paper, I argue that much of this criticism misses the point: it assumes that economics is about explaining human behavior when in fact, since Adam Smith, economists have been more interested in explaining patterns that emerge from social interaction. While some minimal account of huma…Read more
  •  29
    In this paper, I review the literature on rational choice theory to scrutinize a number of criticisms that philosophers have voiced against its usefulness in economics. The paper has three goals: first, I argue that the debates about RCT have been characterized by disunity and confusion about the object under scrutiny, which calls into question the effectiveness of those criticisms. Second, I argue that RCT is not a single and unified choice theory—let alone an empirical theory of human behavior…Read more
  •  28
    From theories of human behavior to rules of rational choice
    History of Political Economy 50 (1): 1-48. 2018.
    This article traces a normative turn between the middle of the 1940s and the early 1950s reflected in the reformulation, interpretation, and use of rational choice theories at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics. This turn is paralleled by a transition from Jacob Marschak’s to Tjalling Koopmans’s research program. While rational choice theories initially raised high hopes that they would serve as empirical accounts to inform testable hypotheses about economic regularities, they becam…Read more
  •  28
    The diffusion of scientific innovations: A role typology
    with Malte Doehne
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77 64-80. 2019.
    How do scientific innovations spread within and across scientific communities? In this paper, we propose a general account of the diffusion of scientific innovations. This account acknowledges that novel ideas must be elaborated on and conceptually translated before they can be adopted and applied to field-specific problems. We motivate our account by examining an exemplary case of knowledge diffusion, namely, the early spread of theories of rational decision-making. These theories were grounded…Read more
  •  22
    Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate edited by Julie Zahle and Finn Collin is reviewed. Each of the contributions contained in the volume is summarized. The review concludes by assessing the volume’s usefulness for bringing clarity into the debate in the light of the editors’ self-set goal of rethinking the individualism-holism debate as one of the more important yet confused debates in philosophy of the social sciences.
  •  20
    Using Rational Choice Theory to account for moral agency has always had some uncomfortable aspect to it. Economists’ attempts to include the moral dimension of behaviour either as a preference for moral behaviour or as an external constraint on self-interested choice, have been criticized for relying on tautologies or lacking a realistic picture of motivation. Homo Oeconomicus, even when conceptually enriched by all kinds of motivations, is ultimately still characterized as caring only for what …Read more
  •  18
    The world in axioms: an interview with Patrick Suppes
    Journal of Economic Methodology 23 (3): 333-346. 2016.
  •  15
    The many faces of rational choice theory
    Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 6 (2): 117. 2013.
  •  15
    This paper discusses why mathematical economists of the early Cold War period favored formal-axiomatic over behavioral choice theories. One reason was that formal-axiomatic theories allowed mathematical economists to improve the conceptual and theoretical foundations of economics and thereby to increase its scientific status. Furthermore, the separation between mathematical economics and other behavioral sciences was not as clear-cut as often argued. While economists did not modify their behavio…Read more
  •  14
    Five reasons for the use of network analysis in the history of economics
    with Malte Doehne
    Journal of Economic Methodology 25 (4): 311-328. 2018.
  •  14
    Review: Marcel Boumans: Science outside the Laboratory (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
  •  10
    Rational choice as a toolbox for the economist: an interview with Itzhak Gilboa
    Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 7 (2): 116-141. 2014.
  •  6
    Since the early days of economics, the rationality principle has been a core element of economic theorizing. It is part of almost any theoretical framework that economists use to generate knowledge. Despite its central role, the principle’s epistemic status and function continue to be debated between empiricists and rationalists, and a clear winner is yet to emerge. One point of contention is that we cannot explain the principle’s special status in light of clear evidence against its empirical v…Read more
  • Conversations on Rational Choice (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. forthcoming.