How-possibly explanations in economics: anything goes?


The recent literature on economic models has rejected the traditional requirement that their epistemic value necessary depended on them offering actual explanations of phenomena. Contributors to that literature have argued that many models do not aim at providing how-actually explanations, but instead how-possibly explanations. However, how to assess the epistemic value of HPEs remains an open question. We present a programmatic approach to answering it. We first introduce a conceptual framework that distinguishes how-actually explanations from how-possibly explanations and that further differentiates between epistemic and objective how-possibly explanations. Secondly, we show how that framework can be used for methodological appraisal as well as for understanding methodological controversies.

Philippe Verreault-Julien
Philippe Verreault-Julien
Postdoctoral Researcher

I work on the epistemology of modelling, understanding, and explanation.