Monday, June 24, 2013

Eric Falkenstein — Models aren't Optional

Of course models are logically necessary since humans express thought in terms of logical constructs that serve to abstract and approximate the design problem to be solved in a model that other can understand and one can critique and test oneself.

As Ludwig Wittgenstein showed in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, descriptive propositions are models representative what they describe. The truth value of descriptive propositions that represent states of affairs and assert their existence as facts can in principle be ascertained empirically. Formulating testable hypotheses is fundamental to scientific method.

 Although descriptive propositions are constructed in "logical space" rather than physical space, the logical aspects of modeling remain the same. As Wittgenstein went on to show in his later work — Philosophical Investigations being the only work other than the Tractatus that he released for publication — that ordinary language use is not limited to the descriptive. Hence, it cannot be approached as scientific in the way that the Tractatus did. Because ordinary language is richer and less precise than formal expression, its underlying logic is more difficult to discern and requires a different kind of logical analysis.

Rigorous thinking, especially, is model-dependent, but not all models are the same, nor are the assumptions and methods of modeling. Formalized and quantitative models are not the only kind of valid or worthwhile modeling, as some seem to assume. A great deal of work has been done on this in logic and philosophy of science, for example.

This is what methodology is about, and conventional economics rules out methodological debate other than on its framing. Other methods and their modeling are not considered, being rejected as "heterodox."

Models aren't Optional
Eric Falkenstein

1 comment:

Jan said...

Thank you Tom.Always nice to read philosophical imput among the other excellent economical,it´s much appricated,and with Wittgenstein thread,a thinker i like and struggled
with for at least 30 years.You may
appreciate this little finnish M.A Numminen,that actually
wrote a Ph:D on Wittgeinstein but in 1960s but became rock musician instead and writer,a pretty funny guy little in style with Captain Beafheart and Zappa.He was drummer but once the singer was sick and he replaced him.His original voice became infact very popular.Heresings Wittgenstein.He also made a symphony with Helsinki Symphony orcherchester on the works of Heidegger!