Peter Spiegler recently published a book entitled Behind the Model: A Constructive Critique of Economic Modeling (Cambridge University Press, 2015, 230 pages).
Abstract: This ambitious book looks ‘behind the model’ to reveal how economists use formal models to generate insights into the economy. Drawing on recent work in the philosophy of science and economic methodology, the book presents a novel framework for understanding the logic of economic modeling. It also reveals the ways in which economic models can mislead rather than illuminate. Importantly, the book goes beyond purely negative critique, proposing a concrete program of methodological reform to better equip economists to detect potential mismatches between their models and the targets of their inquiry. Ranging across economics, philosophy, and social science methods, and drawing on a variety of examples, including the recent financial crisis, Behind the Model will be of interest to anyone who has wondered how economics works – and why it sometimes fails so spectacularly.
Part I. A Constructive Critique of Common Modeling Practice:
1. Models and modeling
2. The use of mathematics in theoretical modeling
3. The use of mathematics in empirical modeling
Part II. The Critique Applied:
4. The new, new institutional economics
5. The financial crisis and economics
Part III. A Reform Proposal:
6. Why reform?
7. A reform proposal