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Alexandrova, Anna, , Robert Northcott. It’s just a feeling: why economic models do not explain
2013, Journal of Economic Methodology, 20(3), 262-267
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: Julian Reiss correctly identified a trilemma about economic models: we cannot maintain that they are false, but nevertheless explain and that only true accounts explain. In this reply we give reasons to reject the second premise – that economic models explain. Intuitions to the contrary should be distrusted.

Comment: This is a good short article to read alongside Reiss’ important paper on the explanation paradox, in the context of a philosophy of economics or social science class. It argues against Reiss’ premise that economic models are explanatory. It draws on, but does not require, knowledge of anyone’s positions in the larger debate on the status of formal models.

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Bicchieri, Cristina, , . The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms
2006, Cambridge University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Jurgis Karpus

Publisher’s Note: In The Grammar of Society, first published in 2006, Cristina Bicchieri examines social norms, such as fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity, in an effort to understand their nature and dynamics, the expectations that they generate, and how they evolve and change. Drawing on several intellectual traditions and methods, including those of social psychology, experimental economics and evolutionary game theory, Bicchieri provides an integrated account of how social norms emerge, why and when we follow them, and the situations where we are most likely to focus on relevant norms. Examining the existence and survival of inefficient norms, she demonstrates how norms evolve in ways that depend upon the psychological dispositions of the individual and how such dispositions may impair social efficiency. By contrast, she also shows how certain psychological propensities may naturally lead individuals to evolve fairness norms that closely resemble those we follow in most modern societies.

Comment: Extracts from Bicchieri’s book can be read in a course that covers game theory and social norms. Bicchieri’s book is famous and highly praised for its contribution to our understanding of how social norms form and influence our choice behaviour in day-to-day social interactions. Christina Bicchieri has recently also co-authored a revised version of the entry ‘social norms’ in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP).

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Nelson, Julie, , . Feminism and economics
1995, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 9(2), 131-148.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Introduction: An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education of June 30, 1993, reported, “Two decades after it began redefining debates” in many other disciplines, “feminist thinking seems suddenly to have arrived in economics.” Many economists, of course, did not happen to be in the station when this train arrived, belated as it might be. Many who might have heard rumor of its coming have not yet learned just what arguments are involved or what it promises for the refinement of the profession. The purpose of this essay is to provide a low-cost way of gaining some familiarity.

Comment: This text provides a good overview, as well as an argument regarding how the field of economics reflects masculine values, and how the field could be improved by removing this bias. It makes sense to read the text with students who have some familiarity with economics itself. It should be noted that the field of economics actually has changed in some of the ways the author recommends, since the time of publication, but the article is still relevant and provokes plenty of discussion.

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