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L'axiomatisation et les théories économiques


  • P. Mongin


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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Suggested Citation

  • P. Mongin, 1999. "L'axiomatisation et les théories économiques," THEMA Working Papers 99-45, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  • Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:99-45

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Erik Schokkaert, 1999. "M. Tout-le-monde est "post-welfariste". Opinions sur la justice redistributive," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 50(4), pages 811-831.
    2. Yannick L'Horty & Antoine Parent & Jean-Claude Berthlemy, 1999. "La revalorisation du RMI," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 50(3), pages 465-478.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marchionatti, Roberto & Mornati, Fiorenzo, 2014. "Economic Theories in Competition. A New Narrative of the Debate on General Economic Equilibrium Theory in the 1930s," CESMEP Working Papers 201404, University of Turin.
    2. Sandye Gloria-Palermo, 2010. "Introducing Formalism in Economics : von Neumann's growth model reconsidered," Post-Print halshs-00726348, HAL.
    3. Philippe Mongin, 2011. "La théorie de la décision et la psychologie du sens commun," Working Papers hal-00625445, HAL.
    4. Jean Baccelli & Philippe Mongin, 2016. "Choice-Based Cardinal Utility: a tribute to Patrick Suppes," Post-Print hal-01462299, HAL.
    5. Philippe Mongin & Franz Dietrich, 2011. "An Interpretive Account of Logical Aggregation Theory," Working Papers hal-00625427, HAL.
    6. repec:voj:journl:v:63:y:2016:i:5:p:503-523 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Philippe Mongin, 2012. "The doctrinal paradox, the discursive dilemma, and logical aggregation theory," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 315-355, September.
    8. Philippe Mongin, 2007. "L'a priori et l'a posteriori en économie," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 73(1), pages 5-53.
    9. Michaël Lainé, 2014. "Vers une alternative au paradigme de la rationalité ? Victoires et déboires du programme spinoziste en économie," Post-Print hal-01335618, HAL.
    10. Dorian Jullien, 2013. "Asian Disease-type of Framing of Outcomes as an Historical Curiosity," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-47, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    11. Sandye Gloria-Palermo, 2010. "Introducing Formalism in Economics: The Growth Model of John von Neumann," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 57(2), pages 153-172, June.
    12. Jean Baccelli, 2016. "L'analyse axiomatique et l'attitude par rapport au risque," Post-Print hal-01462286, HAL.
    13. Philippe Mongin, 2012. "Une source méconnue de la théorie de l'agrégation des jugements," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 63(4), pages 645-657.
    14. Sandye Gloria-Palermo, 2013. "In Search of the Right Tool: From Formalism to Constructivist Modelling," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-33, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C00 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - General
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General


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