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The Duhem-Quine thesis and experimental economics. A reinterpretation

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Abstract

The Duhem-Quine thesis asserts that any empirical evaluation of a theory is in fact a composite test of several interconnected hypotheses. Recalcitrant evidence signals falsity within the conjunction of hypotheses, but logic alone cannot pinpoint the individual element(s) inside the theoretical cluster responsible for a false prediction. This paper considers the relevance of the Duhem-Quine thesis for experimental economics. A starting point is to detail how laboratory evaluations of economic hypotheses constitute composite tests. Another aim is to scrutinize the strategy of conducting a series of experiments in order to hem in the source(s) of disconfirmative evidence. A Bayesian approach is employed to argue that reproducing experiments is not necessarily useful in terms of identifying correct causes of recalcitrant data.

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  • Morten Søberg, 2002. "The Duhem-Quine thesis and experimental economics. A reinterpretation," Discussion Papers 329, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:329
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    1. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
    2. Cross, Rodney, 1982. "The Duhem-Quine Thesis, Lakatos and the Appraisal of Theories in Macroeconomics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(366), pages 320-340, June.
    3. Chris Starmer, 1999. "Experiments in economics: should we trust the dismal scientists in white coats?," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30.
    4. B.J. Heijdra & A.D. Lowenberg, 1986. "Duhem-Quine, Lakatos and Research Programmes in Economics," Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, , vol. 1(3), pages 175-187, April.
    5. Smith, Vernon L, 1989. "Theory, Experiment and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 151-169, Winter.
    6. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, March.
    7. Roth, Alvin E, 1994. "Lets Keep the Con out of Experimental Econ.: A Methodological Note," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 279-289.
    8. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521425230, March.
    9. Binmore, Ken, 1999. "Why Experiment in Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages 16-24, February.
    10. Vernon L. Smith, 1994. "Economics in the Laboratory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 113-131, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Meszaros, Sandor, 2008. "Theory testing (hypothesis testing) in agricultural economics," Studies in Agricultural Economics, Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, issue 107, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experimental economics; methodology; Duhem-Quine thesis.;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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