"The Case Against Formal Methods in (Austrian) Economics: a Partial Defense of Formalization as Translation"
, in Journal of Economic Methodology, Vol. 30, Nummer 2, Seite(n) 107-121, 5-2023
The Case Against Formal Methods in (Austrian) Economics: a Partial Defense of Formalization as Translation
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Mainstream economics has been accused of excessive mathematization, whereas the rejection of mathematical and other formal methods is often cited as a crucial trait of Austrian economics. Based on a systematic discussion of potential benefits and drawbacks of formalization, this paper corroborates legitimate concerns that predominant types of mathematization induce a shift of attention away from the key concepts of Austrian economics. Taking this shift to the extreme, predominant modes of mathematization tend to accompany a detachment from ?reality? incompatible with Austrian pleas for realisticness. Contrary to popular prejudice however, the most prominent representatives of the Austrian School including Carl Menger, Ludwig Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Israel Kirzner, and Peter Boettke neither provide a justification for a wholesale rejection of formalization nor actually reject it. Adequate formalization can serve as a remedy for lacking logical and semantic rigor in standard mathematical economics as well as in murky verbal chains of reasoning.