Philosophy of Macroeconomics and Economic Policy

Don Ross

Published online October 2014 | | DOI:

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The article argues that philosophers of economics have neglected macroeconomics in favor of microeconomics, attributing this to a naïve belief that microfoundations as economists understand them are motivated by the kinds of considerations that drive reductionism and atomism as these topics have been discussed in general philosophy of science. The article considers whether macroeconomists study irreducible “real patterns.” Three grounds for doubting this are taken up: that macroeconomic patterns would be redundant if microeconomic knowledge were more advanced, that macroeconomic variables are so sensitive to so many underlying complexities that macroeconomic models are mere historical descriptions that do not support out-of-sample predictions, and that macroeconomics is not objective inquiry because it is policy driven. Grounds are given for regarding none of these concerns as decisive, and a hypothesis is presented that would explain why macroeconomic patterns might be sufficiently stable to be real objects of a special science.

Keywords: philosophy of science; macroeconomics; microfoundations; reductionism; real patterns

Article.  8603 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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