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A Science of Human Nature?

Philosophical Disputes at the Interface of Natural and Social Science

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Christopher Clarke on Preferences in Economics

last modified Oct 28, 2015 01:33 PM

Christopher Clarke has a new paper 'Preferences and Positivist Methodology in Economics' forthcoming in Philosophy of Science.

The aim of the paper is to untangle a debate amongst philosophers and economists about what economic models are doing when they assign preferences to economic agents. Christopher distinguishes several doctrines that economic methodologists have found attractive, all of which have a positivist flavour. One of these is the doctrine that preference assignments in economics are just shorthand descriptions of agents' choice behaviour. Although most of these doctrines are problematic, the latter doctrine about preference assignments is a respectable one, Christopher argues. It doesn't entail any of the problematic doctrines, and indeed it is warranted independently of them.

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