Friday, June 5, 2015

Lars P. Syll — Chameleon economics

There are different kinds of models. For example, a model might be a replica to scale, like the model aircraft or automobile. Or a model might be simple heuristic model as a "rough-out" that provides some insight into an aspect of interest. Then there are theoretical models that purport be causal explanations set for as theory. These fall into special theories and general theories. 

A "chameleon model" is one that switches between or among these types. For example, a simple heuristic can "shape-shift" into a theoretical model or even a replica in different contexts. Obviously, there is some rhetorical sleight of hand involved, which then results in a shift in model type to address if it is challenged.

This is very much like the sophistical assumptions that can be made to say anything. For example, if it is assumed that preferences are rational, then whatever a rational agent does can be accounted for in terms of rational pursuit of "utility" maximization. Again, if all action is purposeful, then purpose can be found to account even for whim.

Needless to say, these are example of pseudo-knowledge and pseudo-science rather than the real thing.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Chameleon economics
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

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