Reductionism in economics: Intentionality and eschatological justification in the microfoundations of macroeconomics


Journal Article

© 2015 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved. Macroeconomists overwhelmingly believe that macroeconomics requires microfoundations, typically understood as a strong eliminativist reductionism. Microfoundations aims to recover intentionality. In the face of technical and data constraints macroeconomists typically employ a representative-agent model, in which a single agent solves the microeconomic optimization problem for the whole economy, and take it to be microfoundationally adequate. The characteristic argument for the representative-agent model holds that the possibility of the sequential elaboration of the model to cover any number of individual agents justifies treating the policy conclusions of the single-agent model as practically relevant. This eschatological justification is examined and rejected.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hoover, KD

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 82 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 689 - 711

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-8248

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/682917

Citation Source

  • Scopus