[A] Methodology of Economics

Coordinators: Uskali Mäki
University of Helsinki, Finland
N. Emrah Aydinonat
Bahcesehir University, Turkey

Economic methodology, broadly conceived, is the study of how economics functions, how it could function, and how it should function ­ and of the various presuppositions and conditions of all these. It examines various meta theoretical key concepts such as theory and model, assumption and idealization, causation and explanation, testing and progress, rhetoric and truth, social construction and pluralism; as well as various goals, styles and constraints of research, such as mathematical modelling and experimentation, grounded theory and case study, causal and functional explanation, forecasting and policy, ontological and institutional (academic and otherwise) constraints on economic inquiry. It also sets out to examine fundamental substantial concepts such as rationality, choice, routine, trust, institution, evolution, coordination, equilibrium, path dependence.

Three dimensions seem particularly relevant to these inquiries within EAEPE. The first is often put in terms of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The second is in terms of realism and non-realism. Neither of these dimensions and the respective distinctions is unproblematic, and hence should be part of the domain of methodological inquiry itself. The distinctions also do not coincide as there are realist versions of "orthodoxy" and non-realist versions of "heterodoxy", ­ which helps to underline the fact that none of the four categories on the two dimensions is uniform. There is a methodological and conceptual jungle there, and it is our task to develop maps that help us orient ourselves so as to do better economics without misrepresenting current practice.

A third dimension deals with what is and what is not economics. Are there, or should there be, any disciplinary boundaries? If so, where are they located? On what conditions, and how, are they to be crossed? Economics participates in interdisciplinary encounters in a variety of ways and directions, influencing other disciplines and being influenced by them. For example, while political science, sociology, and science studies have been partly reshaped by an increasing use of economic concepts and methods, economics itself is being transformed due to its encounters with cognitive and life sciences. Institutional and evolutionary economics lie at the crossroads of these trends. Since none of this is simple, uniform, and straightforward, careful analyses are needed to track the detailed structure of these processes. What drives and shapes them? Which parts of economics participate in these encounters and how? How are we to evaluate the outcomes? How does all this relate with the first two dimensions?