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Economic models as mini-theories


  • Steven Rappaport


Economic thinking is largely the construction of models and their use in various cognitive activities. So, understanding the conduct of inquiry in economics requires understanding economic models and their various uses. This paper connects models to a somewhat improved version of Laudan's distinction between mini-theories and global theories. Specifically, the paper indicates that economic models are mini-theories, and says something about the relations between models and the broader networks of beliefs that constitute global theories in economics. But the claim that models are mini-theories is intended as an initial and only partial account of the nature of models. As this paper indicates, viewing models as minitheories leaves room for adopting some further, more penetrating account of the nature of models, and underdetermines the choice as to which more profound account of models is selected.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Rappaport, 2001. "Economic models as mini-theories," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 275-285.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:8:y:2001:i:2:p:275-285
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780110047318

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Latsis,, 1980. "Method and Appraisal in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521280501, October.
    2. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, October.
    3. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521425230, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arthur Brackmann Netto, 2017. "The Double Edge of Case-Studies: A Frame-Based Definition of Economic Models," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2017_21, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    2. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Gotsis, George, 2003. "A Meta-theoretical Assessment of the Decline of Scholastic Economics," MPRA Paper 12876, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2004.


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