Vredenburg, Kate. A Unificationist Defense of Revealed Preferences
2019, Economics & Philosophy 36.1, 149-169
Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Revealed preference approaches to modelling agents’ choices face two seemingly devastating explanatory objections. The no self-explanation objection imputes a problematic explanatory circularity to revealed preference approaches, while the causal explanation objection argues that, all things equal, a scientific theory should provide causal explanations, but revealed preference approaches decidedly do not. Both objections assume a view of explanation, the constraint-based view, that the revealed preference theorist ought to reject. Instead, the revealed preference theorist should adopt a unificationist account of explanation, allowing her to escape the two explanatory problems discussed in this paper.
Comment: An ingenious and clear defense of the revealed preference interpretation, probably the best one that's possible. A nice opportunity to discuss with students the intellectual gymnastics required in order to defend theoretical commitments of the contemporary economy.