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Behind the Model
A Constructive Critique of Economic Modeling

$30.00 USD

Part of Strategies for Social Inquiry

  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316371558

$ 30.00 USD
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About the Authors
  • This ambitious book looks 'behind the model' to reveal how economists use formal models to generate insights into the economy. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of science and economic methodology, the book presents a novel framework for understanding the logic of economic modeling. It also reveals the ways in which economic models can mislead rather than illuminate. Importantly, the book goes beyond purely negative critique, proposing a concrete program of methodological reform to better equip economists to detect potential mismatches between their models and the targets of their inquiry. Ranging across economics, philosophy, and social science methods, and drawing on a variety of examples, including the recent financial crisis, Behind the Model will be of interest to anyone who has wondered how economics works - and why it sometimes fails so spectacularly.

    • Proposes a new analysis of how mathematical scientific models work in economics
    • Uses contemporary examples, including the failure to predict the recent financial crisis
    • Offers a positive program of reform for economic methodology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The 2007–9 global financial crisis and Great Recession demonstrated that the most prestigious economic models were incapable of recognizing, much less preventing, the debacle. How could this be possible? Peter Spiegler's critique of mainstream mathematical modeling methodology delivers a compelling explanation. More important still, Spiegler advances alternative theoretical and empirical methodologies that are capable of reframing economics as a viable scientific endeavor. Behind the Model is a deeply insightful work that should force all open-minded economists to rethink their most basic presuppositions and practices.' Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    'This book takes us quickly beyond all the standard criticisms of the use of mathematical formalism in economics to broader questions of how mathematical and verbal argumentation connect to our understanding of the real world. Behind the Model is the most sophisticated discussion of the role of mathematical formalism in economics in decades, and its influence will be long lasting.' William Milberg, Dean and Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316371558
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. A Constructive Critique of Common Modeling Practice:
    1. Models and modeling
    2. The use of mathematics in theoretical modeling
    3. The use of mathematics in empirical modeling
    Part II. The Critique Applied:
    4. The new, new institutional economics
    5. The financial crisis and economics
    Part III. A Reform Proposal:
    6. Why reform?
    7. A reform proposal

  • Author

    Peter Spiegler, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Peter Spiegler is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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