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A logical critique of mathematical formalism in economics


  • Ken Dennis


Mathematical economic theory is lacking in logical rigour. Even if the mathematics used in constructing formal economic theory is rigorous as pure mathematics, economic theory possesses both mathematical and non-mathematical components. But mathematical reductionism fails to formalize the non-mathematical components of economic theory, and the method of numerics (outlined in this paper) shows how, in simple cases, the two components of economic theory can be formally identified, distinguished, and integrated. However, the real challenge to formalizing economic theory points not to mathematics but to problems of constructing a logic coping with propositional attitudes (belief, preference, intention) that lie at the very heart of economic rationality and can be treated only by means of intensional logic.

Suggested Citation

  • Ken Dennis, 1996. "A logical critique of mathematical formalism in economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 151-169.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:3:y:1996:i:1:p:151-169
    DOI: 10.1080/13501789600000012

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    Cited by:

    1. Steve Fleetwood, 2001. "Causal Laws, Functional Relations and Tendencies," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 201-220.

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    economic; theory; logic; rigour; formalization; mathematics;


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