L'axiomatisation et les théories économiques
This essay aims at first reconsidering the « axiomatic method », and then showing how it is implemented in Debreu’ s general equilibrium theory, von Neumann and Morgenstern’s theory of decision, and Arrow’s, Nash’s and their followers’ contributions to normative economics. We separate an axiomatisation from other ways of formalization in terms of the following : first, a formal system, and second, the orderly interaction of a syntax and a semantics. We argue that logical calculi constitute a model of axiomatization that can be reproduced at least analogically elsewhere in science. Although economic axiomatizations follow Bourbaki’s set-theoretic style, they exhibit strongly distinctive features. Semantics is hardly formalized, and very often kept fixed throughout. In terms of a novel distinction of this paper, the economists’ formal systems are « theorematic » rather than « definitional ». We conclude by objecting to the notion of axiomatisation adopted in normative economics. Classification JEL : B20, B41, C00, C70, D70
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