Mary S. Morgan has recently published a book entitled The World in the Model, How Economists Work and Think (Cambridge University Press, 2012, 435 pp.).
Summary: During the last two centuries, the way economic science is done has changed radically: it has become a social science based on mathematical models in place of words. This book describes and analyses that change – both historically and philosophically – using a series of case studies to illuminate the nature and the implications of these changes. It is not a technical book; it is written for the intelligent person who wants to understand how economics works from the inside out. This book will be of interest to economists and science studies scholars (historians, sociologists and philosophers of science). But it also aims at a wider readership in the public intellectual sphere, building on the current interest in all things economic and on the recent failure of the so-called economic model, which has shaped our beliefs and the world we live in.
Table of contents:
1. Modelling as a method of enquiry
2. Model building: new recipes, ingredients and integration
3. Imagining and imaging: creating a new model world
4. Character making: ideal types, idealization and the art of caricature
5. Metaphors and analogies: choosing the world of the model
6. Questions and stories: capturing the heart of matters
7. Model experiments?
8. Simulating: taking a microscope to economics
9. Model situations, typical cases and exemplary narratives
10. From the world in the model to the model in the world.
You can access to the first chapter here.
The publication of this book is the occasion to remind about the one (a little bit more ancient) of Bernard Walliser, Comment raisonnent les économistes : les fonctions des modèles (Paris, Odile Jacob, 2011, 278 pp.). A review of this latter book was published in the latest issue of the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics.
Edit (on 21 May 2013): You can also read a review of the Mary Morgan’s book by Robert Sugden in the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics (published in the vol. 6/1, June 2013): http://ejpe.org/pdf/6-1-br-1.pdf.
Edit (on 28 May 2013): Another review of the Mary Morgan’s book by Itzhak Gilboa is available here. Furthermore, The World in the Model, How Economists Work and Think won the Best book award 2013 of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (ESHET).