What on earth are economic theorists like me trying to accomplish? This paper discusses four dilemmas encountered by an economic theorist:
The dilemma of absurd conclusions: Should we abandon a model if it produces absurd conclusions or should we regard a model as a very limited set of assumptions that will inevitably fail in some contexts?
The dilemma of responding to evidence: Should our models be judged according to experimental results?
The dilemma of modelless regularities: Should models provide the hypothesis for testing or are they simply exercises in logic that have no use in identifying regularities?
The dilemma of relevance: Do we have the right to offer advice or to make statements that are intended to influence the real world?
Respostas na conclusão do artigo:
Like us, the teller of fables confronts the dilemma of absurd conclusions, because the logic of his story may also lead to absurd conclusions. Like us, the teller of fables confronts the dilemma of response to evidence. He wants to maintain a connection between his fable and what he observes; there is a fine line between an amusing fantasy and a fable with a message. Like us, the teller of fables is frustrated by the dilemma of fableless regularity when he realizes that sometimes his fables are not needed to obtain insightful observations. Like us, the teller of fables confronts the dilemma of relevance. He wants to influence the world, but knows that his fable is only a theoretical argument. As in the case of fables, absurd conclusions reveal contexts in which the model produces unreasonable results, but this may not necessarily make the model uninteresting. As in the case of fables, models in economic theory are derived from observations of the real world, but are not meant to be testable. As in the case of fables, models have limited scope. As in the case of a good fable, a good model can have an enormous influence on the real world, not by providing advice or by predicting the future, but rather by influencing culture.13 Yes, I do think we are simply the tellers of fables, but is that not wonderful?
Fonte: Rubinstein, Ariel, (2006), Dilemmas of an Economic Theorist, Econometrica, 74, issue 4, p. 865-883,