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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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Anderson, Elizabeth. Ethical Assumptions in Economic Theory: Some Lessons from the History of Credit and Bankruptcy
2004, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7.4, 347-360
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Added by: Björn Freter

Abstract: This paper evaluates the economic assumptions of economic theory via an examination of the capitalist transformation of creditor-debtor relations in the 18th century. This transformation enabled masses of people to obtain credit without moral opprobrium or social subordination. Classical 18th century economics had the ethical concepts to appreciate these facts. Ironically, contemporary economic theory cannot. I trace this fault to its abstract representations of freedom, efficiency, and markets. The virtues of capitalism lie in the concrete social relations and social meanings through which capital and commodities are exchanged. Contrary to laissez faire capitalism, the conditions for sustaining these concrete capitalist formations require limits on freedom of contract and the scope of private property rights.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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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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