The major methodological task for modern economists has been to establish the testability of models. Too often, however, methodological assumptions can make a model virtually impossible to test even under ideal conditions, yet few theorists have examined the requirements and problems of assuring testability in economics.
In The Methodology of Economic Model Building, first published in 1989, Lawrence Boland presents the results of a research project that spanned more than twenty years. He examines how economists have applied the philosophy of Karl Popper, relating methodological debates about falsifiability to wider discussions about the truth status of models in natural and social sciences. He concludes that model building in economics reflects more the methodological prescriptions of the economist Paul Samuelson than Popper's `falsificationism'. This title will prove invaluable to both students and researchers, and represents a substantial contribution to debates about the scientific status of economics.
Acknowledgements; Preface; Prologue: Methodology vs Applied Methodology; Part I: Applications of the Popper-Samuelson Demarcation 1. Economic understanding and understanding economics 2. On the methodology of economic model building 3. Implementing the Popper-Samuelson demarcation in economics; Part II: Popper-Samuelson Demarcation vs the Truth Status of Models 4. Conventionalism and economic theory: methodological controversy in the 1960s 5. Methodology as an exercise in economic analysis; Part III: Exploring the Limits of the Popper-Samuelson Demarcation 6. Uninformative mathematical economic models 7. On the impossibility of testability in modern economics 8. Model specifications, stochasticism and convincing tests in economics; Epilogue: Methodology after Samuelson: Lessons for Methodologists; Bibliography; Names Index; Subject Index