AbstractThe model of economic man is either empirically testable and false, or it is non-testable and always true. The fact that neither position is entirely satisfactory is called Macaulay’s problem. This paper first reviews and criticizes various attitudes toward this problem and then argues that Macaulay’s problem is a pseudoproblem, because it assumes that the explicandum of the economic man model is individual behavior. Contrary to this assumption it is argued that the model attempts to explain changes of people’s behavior on an aggregate level in response to changes in constraints. The paper posits that all the studied attitudes pertaining to Macaulay’s problem can be reinterpreted and, to a great extent, reconciled in light of this view. It is also argued that this view helps to explain why the usual criticisms of the economic man model miss the point. A method for effective criticism is suggested
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by ICER - International Centre for Economic Research in its series ICER Working Papers with number 01-2013.
Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
economic man; “as if” explanations; apriorism; rational choice; methodology of economics; empirical content of theories;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
- D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-09-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-HPE-2013-09-25 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-LAM-2013-09-25 (Central & South America)
- NEP-LTV-2013-09-25 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
- NEP-NEU-2013-09-25 (Neuroeconomics)
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