Methodological arrogance

20 Jul, 2014 at 14:40 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | Comments Off on Methodological arrogance

arroganceSo what do I mean by methodo-logical arrogance? I mean an attitude that invokes micro-foundations as a methodo-logical principle — philosophical reductionism in Popper’s terminology — while dismissing non-microfounded macromodels as unscientific. To be sure, the progress of science may enable us to reformulate (and perhaps improve) explanations of certain higher-level phenomena by expressing those relationships in terms of lower-level concepts. That is what Popper calls scientific reduction. But scientific reduction is very different from rejecting, on methodological principle, any explanation not expressed in terms of more basic concepts.

And whenever macrotheory seems inconsistent with microtheory, the inconsistency poses a problem to be solved. Solving the problem will advance our understanding. But simply to reject the macrotheory on methodological principle without evidence that the microfounded theory gives a better explanation of the observed phenomena than the non-microfounded macrotheory … is arrogant. Microfoundations for macroeconomics should result from progress in economic theory, not from a dubious methodological precept.

David Glasner

For more on microfoundations and methodological arrogance, read yours truly’s Micro versus Macro in Real-World Economics Review (issue no. 66, January 2014).

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