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On Excessive Mathematization, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Philosophical bases for Real World Knowledge

Nicolas Bouleau ()
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Nicolas Bouleau: CIRED - Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - Cirad - Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AgroParisTech

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Abstract: Several articles on the misuse of mathematics in economics have already appeared in this journal. They all denounce this excess and list numerous weaknesses of liberal economics and theoretical economics that are due to, or at least related to, too much math. My thesis is that economics adds its own particular difficulties to these issues (because of its status as "conseiller du prince", and because through teaching it gives useful professional skills, etc.) and that things become clearer when we step back and frame the question in terms of knowledge in general. As the reader will see, this enables us to trace, with great epistemological force, the direction of a different type of knowledge. This allows us to escape from the addiction of mathematization while building a better quality knowledge. We will take in a number of examples in economics and finance, but the fact remains that economics has many distinctive characteristics, as several authors have noted, which tend to prevent a reasoned consideration of its social function. Consequently there remain several points that will need to be developed further.

Keywords: mathematization; economics; pluralism; epistemology (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-09-01
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Published in Real World Economics, 2011, 57, pp.90-105

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