Henryk Górecki — Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

25 Sep, 2013 at 18:17 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Henryk Górecki — Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

 

Für Alina

25 Sep, 2013 at 18:00 | Posted in Varia | 7 Comments

 

How to argue with economists

25 Sep, 2013 at 10:37 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on How to argue with economists
 
arguing
 
Principle 1: Credentials are not an argument.
Example: “You say Theory X is wrong…but don’t you know that Theory X is supported by Nobel Prize winners A, B, and C, not to mention famous and distinguished professors D, E, F, G, and H?”
 
Suggested Retort: Loud, barking laughter.
 
Alternative Suggested Retort: “Richard Feynman said that ‘Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.’ And you’re not going to argue with HIM, are you?”
 
Reason You’re Right: Credentials? Gimme a break. Nobody accepts received wisdom from sages these days. Show me the argument!
 
Principle 2: “All theories are wrong” is false.
Example: “Sure, Theory X fails to forecast any variable of interest or match important features of the data. But don’t you know that all models are wrong? I mean, look at Newton’s Laws…THOSE ended up turning out to be wrong, ha ha ha.”
 
Suggested Retort: Empty an entire can of Silly String onto anyone who says this. (I carry Silly String expressly for this purpose.)
 
Alternative Suggested Retort: “Yeah, well, when your theory is anywhere near as useful as Newton’s Laws, come back and see me, K?”
 
Reason You’re Right: To say models are “wrong” is fatuous semantics; philosophically, models can only have degrees of predictive power within domains of validity. Newton’s Laws are only “wrong” if you are studying something very small or moving very fast. For most everyday applications, Newton’s Laws are very, very right.
 
Principle 3: “We have theories for that” is not good enough.
Example: “How can you say that macroeconomists have ignored Phenomenon X? We have theories in which X plays a role! Several, in fact!”
 
Suggested Retort: “Then how come no one was paying attention to those theories before Phenomenon X emerged and slapped us upside the head?”
 
Reason You’re Right: Actually, there are two reasons. Reason 1 is that it is possible to make many models to describe any phenomenon, and thus there is no guarantee that Phenomenon X is correctly describe by Theory Y rather than some other theory, unless there is good solid evidence that Theory Y is right, in which case economists should be paying more a lot attention to Theory Y. Reason 2 is that if the profession doesn’t have a good way to choose which theories to apply and when, then simply having a bunch of theories sitting around gathering dust is a little pointless.
 
Principle 4: Argument by accounting identity almost never works.
Example: “But your theory is wrong, because Y = C + I + G!”
 
Suggested Retort: “If my theory violates an accounting identity, wouldn’t people have noticed that before? Wouldn’t this fact be common knowledge?”
 
Reason You’re Right: Accounting identities are mostly just definitions. Very rarely do definitions tell us anything useful about the behavior of variables in the real world. The only exception is when you have a very good understanding of the behavior of all but one of the variables in an accounting identity, in which case of course it is useful. But that is a very rare situation indeed.
 
Principle 5: The Efficient Markets Hypothesis does not automatically render all models useless.
Example: “But if your model could predict financial crises, then people could use it to conduct a riskless arbitrage; therefore, by the EMH, your model cannot predict financial crises.”
 
Suggested Retort: “By your logic, astrophysics can never predict when an asteroid is going to hit the Earth.”
 
Reason You’re Right: Conditional predictions are different than unconditional predictions. A macro model that is useful for making policy will not say “Tomorrow X will happen.” It will say “Tomorrow X will happen unless you do something to stop it.” If policy is taken to be exogenous to a model (a “shock”), then the EMH does not say anything about whether you can see an event coming and do something about it.
 
Principle 6: Models that only fit one piece of the data are not very good models.
Example: “Sure, this model doesn’t fit facts A, B, and C, but it does fit fact D, and therefore it is a ‘laboratory’ that we can use to study the impact of changes in the factors that affect D.”
 
Suggested Retort: “Nope!”
 
Reason You’re Right: Suppose you make a different model to fit each phenomenon. Only if all your models don’t interact will you be able to use each different model to study its own phenomenon. And this is highly unlikely to happen. Also, it’s generally pretty easy to make a large number of different models that fit any one given fact, but very hard to make models that fit a whole bunch of facts at once. For these reasons, many philosophers of science claim that science theories should explain a whole bunch of phenomena in terms of some smaller, simpler subset of underlying phenomena. Or, in other words, wrong theories are wrong.
 
Principle 7: The message is not the messenger.
Example: “Well, that argument is being made by Person X, who is obviously just angry/a political hack/ignorant/not a real economist/a commie/stupid/corrupt.”
 
Suggested Retort: “Well, now it’s me making the argument! So what are you going to say about me?”
 
Reason You’re Right: This should be fairly obvious, but people seem to forget it. Even angry hackish ignorant stupid communist corrupt non-economists can make good cogent correct arguments (or, at least, repeat them from some more reputable source!). Arguments should be argued on the merits. This is the converse of Principle 1.
 
There are, of course, a lot more principles than these, and I’ll include some in a later post. The set of silly things that people can and will say to try to beat an interlocutor down is, well, very large. But I think these seven principles will guard you against much of the worst of the silliness. Keep them always with you at your side … Happy arguing!

Noah Smith: Seven principles for arguing with economists

O horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

24 Sep, 2013 at 20:56 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on O horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter revealed Monday that the Swedish police have established a register of Roma people. More than 4,000 Roma are said to be listed in the database, which according to constitutional experts breaks several Swedish laws. Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said she was “shocked” by the revelations.

The Commission on Security and Integrity Protection, which supervises the surveillance methods of the police, has launched an investigation.

arbeitIn all, 4,029 people from around Sweden are listed in the database. Over 1,000 of them are children. Many of those registered are not suspected of committing any crime.

The registry, marked “travelers”, reportedly sits in a folder in the computer system of the Skåne police in southern Sweden.

There were strong reactions from within Sweden’s Roma community on Monday. Fred Taikon, publisher of the É Romani Glinda magazine, told news agency TT that he was dumbfounded after hearing the news:

“This is a terrible, unlawful action that the police are committing. It is forbidden to register people based on their ethnicity – and that is exactly what the authorities are doing.”

Hans Caldaras, an artist and author of Roma origin, told Swedish Television News … that the registry brings to mind the early 1940s, when Swedish police, acting in response to the Nazis, mapped Roma and Jews living in Sweden.

Radio Sweden

Rent-seeking in the financial sector

24 Sep, 2013 at 17:33 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

Are too many of our most talented people choosing careers in finance – and, more specifically, in trading, speculating, and other allegedly “unproductive” activities? …

rent3According to a study by Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef, much of the increase in financial activity has taken place in the more speculative fields, at the expense of traditional finance. From 1950 to 2006, credit intermediation (lending, including traditional banking) declined relative to “other finance” (including securities, commodities, venture capital, private equity, hedge funds, trusts, and other investment activities like investment banking). Moreover, wages in “other finance” skyrocketed relative to those in credit intermediation.

We surely need some people in trading and speculation. But how do we know whether we have too many?

To some people, the question is a moral one. Trading against others is regarded as an inherently selfish pursuit, even if it might have indirect societal benefits. But, as economists like to point out, traders and speculators provide a useful service. They sort through information about businesses and (at least some of the time) try to judge their real worth. They are thus helping to allocate society’s resources to the best uses – that is, to the most promising businesses.

But these people’s activities also impose costs on the rest of us. Indeed, a 2011 paper by Patrick Bolton, Tano Santos, and José Scheinkman argues that a significant amount of speculation and deal-making is pure rent-seeking. In other words, it is wasteful activity that achieves nothing more than enabling the collection of rents on items that might otherwise be free …

Those in “other finance” often engage in similar behavior. They skim the best business deals, creating a “negative externality” on those who are not party to them. If the bad assets that they reject – for example, the subprime mortgage securities that fueled the 2008 financial crisis – are created anyway and foisted on less knowledgeable investors, financiers contribute no more to society than a lord who installs a chain across a river …

Bolton and his colleagues seem to be right in many respects, though economic research has not yet permitted us to estimate the value to society of so many of our best and brightest making their careers in the currently popular kinds of “other finance.” Speculative activities have plusses and minuses, much that is good and some that is bad, and these are very difficult to quantify. We need to be very careful about regulations that impinge on such activities, but we should not shy away from making regulations once we have clarity.

Robert Shiller

Open letter to students everywhere

24 Sep, 2013 at 11:04 | Posted in Education & School | Comments Off on Open letter to students everywhere

One of the popular myths of higher education is that professors are sadists who live to inflict psychological trauma on undergraduates. Perhaps you believe that we pick students at random and then schedule all our assignments in such a way as to make those students’ lives as difficult as possible. The older I get and the longer I do this, the more I recognize that we (the professors) need to be more transparent about our philosophies of evaluation. How does this work? Let’s clarify a few things.
caligula2First, I do not “take off” points. You earn them. The difference is not merely rhetorical, nor is it trivial. In other words, you start with zero points and earn your way to a grade. You earn a grade in (say) Econ 100 for demonstrating that you have gained a degree of competence in economics ranging from being able to articulate the basic principles (enough to earn a C) to mastery and the ability to apply these principles to day-to-day affairs (which will earn an A). I’ve hurt my own grades before by confusing my own incompetence with competence and my own (bare) competence with mastery, so trust me: I’ve been there, and I understand.

Second, this means that the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you have mastered the material. It is not on me to demonstrate that you have not. My assumption at the beginning of each class is that you know somewhere between nothing and very little about basic economics unless you were lucky enough to have an exceptional high school economics course. Otherwise, why are you here? You might say that the course is a prerequisite for other things you want to do, but if that it is the case and you know the material, you’re more than welcome to simply show up for the exams, ace them, and be on your way …

In this light, consider this: the fact that you “don’t understand” why you didn’t earn full points for a particular question might itself help explain why you didn’t earn full points. Don’t take this personally or interpret it as a sneer. See it as a learning opportunity. If you understood the material–and do note that there is a large difference between really understanding the material and being able to reproduce a graph or definition you might remember from class–you would have answered the question flawlessly. I recommend (as I have recommended to many others) that you go back, take another crack at it, and see if you can find where you have gone wrong. Then bring it by my office, and we will talk.

Finally, I’m here to be a mentor and instructor. This means that our relationship differs from the relationships that you have with your friends and family. Please don’t infer from this that I don’t care about you, because I do. A lot. I want to see you make good choices. I want to see you understand basic economics because I hope it will rock your world as it continues to rock mine and because the human consequences of lousy economic policy are enormous. That said, you should never take grades personally. I don’t think you’re stupid because you tank an exam, an assignment, or even an entire course. Economics is hard. A D or an F on an economics exam does not diminish your value in God’s eyes (or in mine) or indicate that economics just isn’t for you. It probably means you need to work smarter, and I’m here to help you with that.

Dear student, I once thought as you do. I once carried about the same misconceptions, the same litany of cognitive biases, and the same adolescent desire to blame others for my errors. I was (and remain) very poorly served by my immaturity. As shocking as it may seem, I still cling to a lot of it, even after four years of college, five years of graduate school, and now five-and-a-half years as a professor. Economics is hard, but becoming a responsible member of a free society is very, very, very hard. I’m still learning to put aside childish things. I hope you will do the same. Start now. The effort is daunting, but the rewards are substantial.

Letter from professor Art Carden to students everywhere

The Economists’ Warning

23 Sep, 2013 at 22:27 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 1 Comment

euro_1805998cThe European crisis continues to destroy jobs. By the end of 2013 there will be 19 million unemployed in the eurozone alone, over 7 million more than in 2008, an increase unprecedented since the end of World War II and one that will stretch on into 2014. The employment crisis strikes above all the peripheral member countries of the European Monetary Union, where an exceptional rise in bankruptcy is also under way, whereas Germany and the other central countries of the eurozone have instead witnessed growth on the job front. This asymmetry is one of the causes of Europe’s present-day political paralysis and the embarrassing succession of summit meetings that result in measures glaringly incapable of halting the processes of divergence under way. While this sluggishness of political response may appear justified in the less severe phases of the cycle and moments of respite on the financial market, it could have the most serious consequences in the long run.

The European authorities are … now making a new mistake. They appear to be convinced that the peripheral member countn solve their problems by implementing “structural reforms”, which will supposedly reduce costs and prices, boost competitiveness, and hence foster export-driven recovery and a reduction of foreign debt. While this view does highlight some real problems, the belief that the solution put forward can safeguard European unity is an illusion. The deflationary policies applied in Germany and elsewhere to build up trade surpluses have worked for years, togeteher with other factors, to create huge imbalances in debt and credit between the eurozone countries. The correction of these imbalances would require concerted action on the part of all the member countries. Expecting the peripheral countries of Union to solve the problem unaided means requiring them to undergo a drop in wages and prices on such a scale as to cause a still more accentuated collapse of incomes and violent debt deflation with the concrete risk of causing new banking crises and crippling production in entire regions of Europe.

It is essential to realise that if the European authorities continue with policies of austerity and rely on structural reforms alone to restore balance, the fate of the euro will be sealed. The experience of the single currency will come to an end with repercussions on the continued existence of the European single market. In the absence of conditions for a reform of the financial system and a monetary and fiscal policy making it possible to develop a plan to revitalise public and private investment, counter the inequalities of income and between areas, and increase employment in the peripheral countries of the Union, the political decision makers will be left with nothing other than a crucial choice of alternative ways out of the euro.

Emiliano Brancaccio and Riccardo Realfonzo (Sannio University, promoters of “the economists’ warning”), Philip Arestis, James Galbraith, Alan Kirman, Dani Rodrik, Engelbert Stockhammer, Malcolm Sawyer …

Financial Times

[h/t Jan Milch]

Lars E. O. Svensson har kommit på bättre tankar

23 Sep, 2013 at 15:11 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Som yours truly påpekade i en artikel förra veckan gjorde den nyligen avgångne Riksbanksledamoten Lars  E. O. Svensson det lite väl — vilseledande — lätt för sig när han argumenterade att de svenska hushållens — enkannerligen — bolånerelaterade skulder på aggregerad nivå inte var något problem och därför inte heller någon anledning för Riksbanken att fortsätta hålla fast vid en högre styrränta av det skälet.

Uppenbarligen har Svensson tagit intryck av kritiken och återkommer nu med en ny artikel där han — mindre vilseledande — resonerar utifrån disaggregerade data.

Bra — och då bortser jag från den lätt löjeväckande dimridå han lägger ut i form av jämförelser mellan hushålls och bankers bruttosoliditet — och definitivt ett steg i riktning mot att öppna upp för en verkligt intressant diskussion. Alea jacta est!

Endogenous growth theory — a very short introduction

23 Sep, 2013 at 08:57 | Posted in Economics | 4 Comments

shawIf you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will each have one apple.

But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

George Bernard Shaw

Adam Smith once wrote that a really good explanation is “practically seamless.” Is there any such theory within one of the most important fields of social sciences – economic growth?

In Paul Romer’s Endogenous Technological Change (1990) knowledge is made the most important driving force of growth. Knowledge (ideas) are presented as the locomotive of growth — but as Allyn Young, Piero Sraffa and others had shown already in the 1920s, knowledge is also something that has to do with increasing returns to scale and therefore not really compatible with neoclassical economics with its emphasis on decreasing returns to scale.

Increasing returns generated by non-rivalry between ideas is simply not compatible with pure competition and the simplistic invisible hand dogma. That is probably also the reason why neoclassical economists have been so reluctant to embrace the theory wholeheartedly.

Neoclassical economics has tried to save itself by more or less substituting human capital for knowledge/ideas. But knowledge or ideas should not be confused with human capital. Although some have problems with the distinction between ideas and human capital in modern endogenous growth theory, this passage gives a succinct and accessible account of the difference:

Of the three statevariables that we endogenize, ideas have been the hardest to bring into the applied general equilibrium structure. The difficulty arises because of the defining characteristic of an idea, that it is a pure nonrival good. A given idea is not scarce in the same way that land or capital or other objects are scarce; instead, an idea can be used by any number of people simultaneously without congestion or depletion.

Because they are nonrival goods, ideas force two distinct changes in our thinking about growth, changes that are sometimes conflated but are logically distinct. Ideas introduce scale effects. They also change the feasible and optimal economic institutions. The institutional implications have attracted more attention but the scale effects are more important for understanding the big sweep of human history.

The distinction between rival and nonrival goods is easy to blur at the aggregate level but inescapable in any microeconomic setting. Picture, for example, a house that is under construction. The land on which it sits, capital in the form of a measuring tape, and the human capital of the carpenter are all rival goods. They can be used to build this house but not simultaneously any other. Contrast this with the Pythagorean Theorem, which the carpenter uses implicitly by constructing a triangle with sides in the proportions of 3, 4 and 5. This idea is nonrival. Every carpenter in the world can use it at the same time to create a right angle.

Of course, human capital and ideas are tightly linked in production and use. Just as capital produces output and forgone output can be used to produce capital, human capital produces ideas and ideas are used in the educational process to produce human capital. Yet ideas and human capital are fundamentally distinct. At the micro level, human capital in our triangle example literally consists of new connections between neurons in a carpenter’s head, a rival good. The 3-4-5 triangle is the nonrival idea. At the macro level, one cannot state the assertion that skill-biased technical change is increasing the demand for education without distinguishing between ideas and human capital.

 

Chicago economics — where do we unload the garbage?

22 Sep, 2013 at 14:56 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

chicagotrashThere is also a practical problem, if economics as a discipline is to survive. There is a huge amount of junk in the peer-reviewed economics literature–the reviewing process is no protection when the reviewers themselves are prejudiced. A comparison that comes to mind is the collapse of “scientific” eugenics. There were vast amounts of that written, and now it is only read as an object example of the capture of a social science by prejudice and authoritarianism. For economists, meantime, there is a huge task ahead: the garbage must be taken out; removed from the field’s teaching, textbooks, and policy advice. It will be a generation at least before this is set right, if indeed it can be set right at all.

Advice Unasked

On the art of using absolutely ridiculous modeling assumptions

22 Sep, 2013 at 13:58 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | 1 Comment

Time after time you hear people speaking in baffled terms about mathematical models that somehow didn’t warn us in time, that were too complicated to understand, and so on. If you have somehow missed such public displays of throwing the model (and quants) under the bus, stay tuned below for examples.
But this is far from the case – most of the really enormous failures of models are explained by people lying …
truth_and_lies
A common response to these problems is to call for those models to be revamped, to add features that will cover previously unforeseen issues, and generally speaking, to make them more complex.

For a person like myself, who gets paid to “fix the model,” it’s tempting to do just that, to assume the role of the hero who is going to set everything right with a few brilliant ideas and some excellent training data.

Unfortunately, reality is staring me in the face, and it’s telling me that we don’t need more complicated models.

If I go to the trouble of fixing up a model, say by adding counterparty risk considerations, then I’m implicitly assuming the problem with the existing models is that they’re being used honestly but aren’t mathematically up to the task.

If we replace okay models with more complicated models, as many people are suggesting we do, without first addressing the lying problem, it will only allow people to lie even more. This is because the complexity of a model itself is an obstacle to understanding its results, and more complex models allow more manipulation …

I used to work at Riskmetrics, where I saw first-hand how people lie with risk models. But that’s not the only thing I worked on. I also helped out building an analytical wealth management product. This software was sold to banks, and was used by professional “wealth managers” to help people (usually rich people, but not mega-rich people) plan for retirement.

We had a bunch of bells and whistles in the software to impress the clients – Monte Carlo simulations, fancy optimization tools, and more. But in the end, the bank’s and their wealth managers put in their own market assumptions when they used it. Specifically, they put in the forecast market growth for stocks, bonds, alternative investing, etc., as well as the assumed volatility of those categories and indeed the entire covariance matrix representing how correlated the market constituents are to each other.

The result is this: no matter how honest I would try to be with my modeling, I had no way of preventing the model from being misused and misleading to the clients. And it was indeed misused: wealth managers put in absolutely ridiculous assumptions of fantastic returns with vanishingly small risk.

Cathy O’Neil

Spiegel im spiegel

22 Sep, 2013 at 00:06 | Posted in Varia | 2 Comments

 

The Last Resort

21 Sep, 2013 at 18:02 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on The Last Resort

 

One of the most brilliantly beautiful songs ever written.

Stabat Mater

21 Sep, 2013 at 17:23 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Stabat Mater

 

Vetenskapliga modeller och atomistiska felslut

20 Sep, 2013 at 18:14 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | Comments Off on Vetenskapliga modeller och atomistiska felslut

Det finns tyvärr få böcker på svenska som behandlar frågan om vad vetenskapliga modeller är för något och vad som utgör deras epistemologiska och ontologiska förutsättningar och status. I ett av de få föreliggande arbeten som försöker tackla frågan kan vi läsa:

gerlee2För att förstå sig på olika aspekter av ett komplicerat fenomen … är det därför vanligt att observera och studera olika delar av systemet som separata företeelser, dvs stycka upp fenomenet i bitar av lagom storlek, som sedan kan studeras var och en för sig … Denna uppdelning i mer fundamentala processer och byggstenar kan sägas vara det första steget inom modellbyggandet … Genom att isolera olika delsystem skapar vi en tydlig avgränsning som ger förutsättningar för vidare studier av systemet … Interaktioner och samspel är ofta väldigt komplexa, och de tillhörande ekvationerna olösliga. För att komma framåt måste vi förenkla fenomen.

Detta “förenklande” och “isolerande” har utan tvekan medverkat till att göra många vetenskaper mer matematiska och modellorienterade. MEN — om vi inte kan visa att de mekanismer och orsaker som vi isolerar och hanterar i våra matematiskt formulerade modeller är stabila i den meningen att de inte förändras när vi exporterar dem till våra “target systems,” så håller ju dessa modeller bara ceteris paribus och är a fortiori av begränsat värde för att förstå, förklara eller predicera verkliga system. Eller som den alltid eminent citerbare nationalekonomen John Maynard Keynes skriver i Treatise on Probability (1921):

KeynesByGrantThe kind of fundamental assumption about the character of material laws, on which scientists appear commonly to act, seems to me to be [that] the system of the material universe must consist of bodies … such that each of them exercises its own separate, independent, and invariable effect, a change of the total state being compounded of a number of separate changes each of which is solely due to a separate portion of the preceding state … Yet there might well be quite different laws for wholes of different degrees of complexity, and laws of connection between complexes which could not be stated in terms of laws connecting individual parts … If different wholes were subject to different laws qua wholes and not simply on account of and in proportion to the differences of their parts, knowledge of a part could not lead, it would seem, even to presumptive or probable knowledge as to its association with other parts … These considerations do not show us a way by which we can justify induction … /427 No one supposes that a good induction can be arrived at merely by counting cases. The business of strengthening the argument chiefly consists in determining whether the alleged association is stable, when accompanying conditions are varied … /468 In my judgment, the practical usefulness of those modes of inference … on which the boasted knowledge of modern science depends, can only exist … if the universe of phenomena does in fact present those peculiar characteristics of atomism and limited variety which appears more and more clearly as the ultimate result to which material science is tending.

Vi bör som forskare självklart hålla utkik efter kausala relationer. Men vi måste också vara varse att det alltid föreligger en risk att det kan finnas andra (kanske icke-kvantifierbara) variabler — viktiga och även om kanske icke-observerbara och icke-additiva, inte nödvändigtvis epistemologiskt oåtkomliga — som inte övervägs för inklusion i den formaliserade matematiska modellen. Detta fundamentalproblem berördes också av Keynes, i dennes kritik av det atomistiska felslutet:

The atomic hypothesis which has worked so splendidly in Physics breaks down in Psychics. We are faced at every turn with the problems of Organic Unity, of Discreteness, of Discontinuity – the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts, comparisons of quantity fails us, small changes produce large effects, the assumptions of a uniform and homogeneous continuum are not satisfied. Thus the results of Mathematical Psychics turn out to be derivative, not fundamental, indexes, not measurements, first approximations at the best; and fallible indexes, dubious approximations at that, with much doubt added as to what, if anything, they are indexes or approximations of.

I sina resonemang om modeller problematiserar Philip Gerlee och Torbjörn Lundh tyvärr inte att de “lagar” och relationer som vetenskapen etablerat genomgående förutsätter att de  åberopade kausala mekanismerna är atomistiska och additiva. Detta är tveksamt även i naturvetenskapen — vilket bl. a. Nancy Cartwright övertygande visat i flera av sina vetenskapsteoretiska arbeten — och i samhällsvetenskapliga sammanhang är det ett oomtvistligt faktum att kausala mekanismer bara opererar i ständigt föränderliga och instabila kombinationer där helheten är mer än en mekanisk summation av delarna. Om regulariteter eller lagliknande relationer föreligger är detta i regel bara ett resultat av design eller experimentell manipulation. Om så är fallet borde författarna kanske mer diskuterat denna grundläggande förutsättning för vetenskapligt modellerande.

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