Seminar in Economic Methodology

New School for Social Research: Economics

Graduate Course
Majors Only
Sem Economic Methodology
Fall 2023
Taught By: Clara Mattei
Section: A

CRN: 15437

Credits: 3

About seven years after the outbreak of the financial crisis, there are hardly any signs of a crisis of the economic discipline. The 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Eugene Fama, stands as an eloquent example of this strange non-crisis in economics. Indeed, his “Efficient Market Hypothesis” has been regarded by many heterodox economists as one of the main causes of the 2008 financial crisis. An important internal reason for the lack of substantive self-criticism and re-orientating force is the neglect of economic methodology, manifested in the taking for granted of an underlying ontology, epistemology, and technical toolbox. This seminar intends to provide food for thought on these issues, which constitute indispensable knowledge for self-aware and critical economists. Indeed, as pointed out in 1836 by J. S. Mill, any dispute of economic theories is grounded in methodological disagreement. Economic methodology involves ample philosophical and theoretical reflection on the discipline of economics. The seminar will adopt a broad perspective that is both historical and thematic. The structure of this course is coherent with the appreciation that concerns about ideology, history, rationality, individualism, embeddedness, etc., emerge time and again in the history of economics. It will be divided in four modules. Module I will look at classical debates of economic methodology, identifying the rise of positivism as the undisputed paradigm of mainstream economics. Module II will sketch a brief excursus on the main developments in the philosophy of science, a discipline that traditional economic methodology considers a pivotal source of self-legitimation. In particular, this module will focus on the rise and fall of positivism, closing with the deadly criticisms of Kuhn and Quine. Module III will expand the historical outlook to critical philosophical traditions and economic approaches, which have challenged the scientist ideology of economic modernism and provided alternative interpretative frameworks. Among others, we will discuss the contributions of the Frankfurt School, the connection between Pragmatism and Institutionalism, and Marxism. Module IV will be of a thematic nature. We will tackle several thorny topics of economic methodology that are pertinent for today’s economic research. The final topics will be decided collegially among students according to their general inclination. They may include: uncertainty; formalization and modelling; time and equilibrium; ideology, or rationality (see below for the complete list of options). The discussions undertaken in the previous modules (I-III) will allow you to discuss these issues with historical awareness and critical attitude.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Economics (ECO)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 15

Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 12:30pm EST 11/28/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Tuesday
Times: 9:55am - 11:45am
Building: 6 East 16th Street
Room: 1200B
Date Range: 8/29/2023 - 12/5/2023