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Is "mathematical science" an oxymoron when used to describe economics?


  • Paul Davidson


This paper interprets Weintraub's book, How Economics Became a Mathematical Science, to suggest why Keynes's General Theory has never had any real impact on the theories and models proposed by rigorous mainstream economic theorists. What is meant by "rigor" and "proof" in mathematical analysis? Mathematicians' and economists' views about these concepts keep changing. Debreu taught economists about axiomatics, formalism, and rigor as the Bourbaki mathematicians reconstructed the meaning of these terms. As a result, mainstream economic theory has lost any connection with the real world. Weintraub's analysis shows that the mathematical scientist emperor of mainstream economics is without clothes.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Davidson, 2003. "Is "mathematical science" an oxymoron when used to describe economics?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(4), pages 527-545.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:postke:v:25:y:2003:i:4:p:527-545
    DOI: 10.1080/01603477.2003.11051376

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    Cited by:

    1. Clifford Poirot & Samuel Pavel, 2008. "The State, Public Policy and Heterodox Economics: An Introduction," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(1), pages 1-12, January.
    2. Miguel A. Duran, 2007. "Mathematical Needs and Economic Interpretations," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-16.
    3. Clifford Poirot & Samuel Pavel, 2008. "The State, Public Policy and Heterodox Economics: An Introduction," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 1-12, May.

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