Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Reductionism in Economics: Causality and Intentionality in the Microfoundations of Macroeconomics

Contents:

Author Info

  • Kevin D. Hoover

Abstract

In many sciences – physical, but also biology, neuroscience, and other life sciences – one object of reductionism is to purge intentionality from the fundamental basis of both explanations and the explanatory target. The scientifically relevant level – ontologically and epistemologically – is thought to lie deeper than the level of ordinary human interactions. In the material and living world, the more familiar is the less fundamental. In contrast, the economic world of day-to-day life – the world of market interactions – appears to be the relevant level. Macroeconomics is thought to provide an account that is above, not below or behind, ordinary economic decisionmaking. An advantage of a macroeconomic account is that it is possible to employ causal analysis of the economy as a whole analogous to the causal analysis of physical systems. The fear of many economists is that such analyses are untethered to ordinary economic decisionmaking. The object of reductionism in economics – the so-called microfoundations of macroeconomics – is adequately to ground or replace higher level causal analysis with an analysis of the day-to-day interactions of people. The object is not to purge intentionality, but to reclaim it. The paper will attempt to understand the key issues surrounding the microfoundations of macroeconomics from a perspectival realist perspective that elucidates the relationship between economists’ methodological preference for microfoundations and need for macroeconomic analysis – that is, between economists’ respect for the intentional nature of economic life and the need for a causal analysis of the economy. The paper favors metaphysical humility and methodological pragmatism.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://hope.econ.duke.edu/node/949
File Function: main text
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for the History of Political Economy in its series Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series with number 2014-3.

as in new window
Length: 30
Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2014-3

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Center for the History of Political Economy Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097
Phone: (919) 660-6899
Web page: http://hope.econ.duke.edu

Related research

Keywords: microfoundations of macroeconomics; reductionism; causation; intentionality; Lucas critique;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2014-3. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.