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Health Economics Research Programme, University of Oslo HERO On line Working Paper Series

No 2003:18:
Defence of Absurd Theories in Economics

Morten Nordberg () and Ole Jørgen Røgeberg ()

Abstract: Theories that involve plainly false and even bizarre assumptions are argued to have an important role in bundling empirical facts in a way that allows these to be understood, handled and used as modules in the construction of mechanisms by economists with human cognitive limits. Absurd theories are subcomponents used in a valid explanatory strategy as long as the mechanisms only derive the implications of the facts summarised. This provides a defence and explanation of many economic theories, but also imposes hard limits on such theorising.

Keywords: As-if theory; Economic methodology; welfare economics; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: B41; D00; (follow links to similar papers)

25 pages, June 22, 2009

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