Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology

The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology

Edited by John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands

Bringing together a collection of leading contributors to this new methodological thinking, the authors explain how it differs from the past and point towards further concerns and future issues. The recent research programs explored include behavioral and experimental economics, neuroeconomics, new welfare theory, happiness and subjective well-being research, geographical economics, complexity and computational economics, agent-based modeling, evolutionary thinking, macroeconomics and Keynesianism after the crisis, and new thinking about the status of the economics profession and the role of the media in economics.

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Changing Character of Economic Methodology

John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, methodology of economics


John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands In the slightly more than half century from the late 1930s, when economic methodology began to be seen as a distinct domain of investigation and a separate field within economics (Hutchison, 1938), to well into the 1990s, philosophy has played a dominant role in determining how economic methodology was understood by its practitioners. Indeed the history of economic methodology during this period can be broadly understood as the successive application of series of different philosophical views regarding the nature of good scientific theorizing: the early embrace of logical positivist thinking, the move to a Popperian falsificationism, its replacement by the Lakatosian research program approach, the turn to language and rhetoric, and most recently the arguments for realism (Blaug, 1992 [1980]; Caldwell, 1994 [1980]; Davis et al., 1998; Hands, 2001; Davis et al., 2004; Kincaid and Ross, 2009; Boumans and Davis, 2010). Thus the field of economic methodology has traditionally been defined in terms of doctrines that have come from outside of economics, primarily the philosophy of natural science, that were simply (often simplistically) applied to economic theorizing. But by the late 1990s economic methodology had begun to be pursued differently. Economic methodologists began to set aside the normative methodological agendas associated with philosophical imports, and increasingly sought to elicit and describe the methodological reasoning they found implicit in economists’ thinking. This has now made what goes on inside of economics more central to the field of economic methodology than what comes from outside...