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Maurice Allais on empirics and theory

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Maurice Allais on empirics and theory Submission to observed or experimental data is the golden rule which dominates any scientific discipline. Any theory whatever, if it is not verified by empirical evidence, has no scientific value and should be rejected. Maurice Allais Formalistic deductive “Glasperlenspiel” can be very impressive and seductive. But in the realm of science, it ought to be considered of little or no value to simply make claims about the model and lose sight of reality. Mainstream — neoclassical — economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical

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Maurice Allais on empirics and theory

Maurice Allais on empirics and theorySubmission to observed or experimental data is the golden rule which dominates any scientific discipline. Any theory whatever, if it is not verified by empirical evidence, has no scientific value and should be rejected.

Maurice Allais

Formalistic deductive “Glasperlenspiel” can be very impressive and seductive. But in the realm of science, it ought to be considered of little or no value to simply make claims about the model and lose sight of reality.

Mainstream — neoclassical — economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. Hopefully humbled by the manifest failure of its theoretical pretences, the one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modelling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics will give way to methodological pluralism based on ontological considerations rather than formalistic tractability.

To have valid evidence is not enough. What economics needs is sound evidence. Why? Simply because the premises of a valid argument do not have to be true, but a sound argument, on the other hand, is not only valid but builds on premises that are true. Aiming only for validity, without soundness, is setting the economics aspirations level too low for developing a realist and relevant science.

Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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