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Experiments versus models: New phenomena, inference and surprise

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  • Mary Morgan

Abstract

A comparison of models and experiments supports the argument that although both function as mediators and can be understood to work in an experimental mode, experiments offer greater epistemic power than models as a means to investigate the economic world. This outcome rests on the distinction that whereas experiments are versions of the real world captured within an artificial laboratory environment, models are artificial worlds built to represent the real world. This difference in ontology has epistemic consequences: experiments have greater potential to make strong inferences back to the world, but also have the power to isolate new phenomena. This latter power is manifest in the possibility that whereas working with models may lead to 'surprise', experimental results may be unexplainable within existing theory and so 'confound' the experimenter.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Morgan, 2005. "Experiments versus models: New phenomena, inference and surprise," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 317-329.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:12:y:2005:i:2:p:317-329
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780500086313
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Klaus M. Schmidt, 2009. "The Role of Experiments for the Development of Economic Theories," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10(s1), pages 14-30, May.
    2. Stefania Sitzia & Robert Sugden, 2011. "Implementing theoretical models in the laboratory, and what this can and cannot achieve," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 323-343, December.
    3. Denis Phan & Franck Varenne, 2010. "Agent-Based Models and Simulations in Economics and Social Sciences: From Conceptual Exploration to Distinct Ways of Experimenting," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 13(1), pages 1-5.
    4. Ana C. Santos, 2011. "Experimental Economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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