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Economic Models as Analogies, Second Version

Author

Listed:
  • Itzhak Gilboa

    () (HEC, Paris, and Tel-Aviv University)

  • Andrew Postlewaite

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Larry Samuelson

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • David Schmeidler

    () (The InterDisciplinary Center, Herzliya and TAU)

Abstract

People often wonder why economists analyze models whose assumptions are known to be false, while economists feel that they learn a great deal from such exercises. We suggest that part of the knowledge generated by academic economists is case-based rather than rule-based. That is, instead of offering general rules or theories that should be contrasted with data, economists often analyze models that are “theoretical cases”, which help understand economic problems by drawing analogies between the model and the problem. According to this view, economic models, empirical data, experimental results and other sources of knowledge are all on equal footing, that is, they all provide cases to which a given problem can be compared. We offer complexity arguments that explain why case-based reasoning may sometimes be the method of choice; why economists prefer simple examples; and why a paradigm may be useful even if it does not produce theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Itzhak Gilboa & Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson & David Schmeidler, 2011. "Economic Models as Analogies, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-030, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 31 Jul 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:12-030
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    8. Aragones, Enriqueta & Gilboa, Itzhak & Postlewaite, Andrew & Schmeidler, David, 2014. "Rhetoric and analogies," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-10.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas J. Sargent, 2015. "Robert E. Lucas Jr.'s Collected Papers on Monetary Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(1), pages 43-64, March.
    2. Aragones, Enriqueta & Gilboa, Itzhak & Postlewaite, Andrew & Schmeidler, David, 2014. "Rhetoric and analogies," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-10.
    3. Paul Pfleiderer, 2014. "Camaleones: el mal uso de modelos teóricos en finanzas y economía," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 16(31), pages 23-30, July-Dece.
    4. Andrea Salanti, 2013. "Between the Scylla of Whig history and the Charybdis of methodological vacuum," Chapters,in: Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes, chapter 14, pages 191-207 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Methodology; Case-based reasoning;

    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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