Theory and Models: Terminology through the Looking Glass

Econ Journal Watch, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 91-108, January 2008

Posted: 24 Jan 2008

See all articles by Robert S. Goldfarb

Robert S. Goldfarb

George Washington University - Department of Economics

Jonathan Ratner

Westat

Abstract

Klein and Romero's (2007, ECON JOURNAL WATCH) use of the terms theory and model seems at considerable variance from other common uses, suggesting that divergent usage by other economist-authors may confront readers with substantial ambiguity. Clarity and understanding can be enhanced by sorting out the competing uses of these terms. This paper first sets forth and examines Klein-Romero's use of theory and model. Second, it compares their usage with several different if not antithetical examples in the literature. Third, it provides a tentative classification scheme of model-types to capture the range of usages of this term in economics. Our thesis is that the terms theory and model are incapable of carrying the diverse characteristics different economists ascribe to them. Our classificatory scheme tries to shed light on this possibility, at least for models.

Keywords: models, model building, theory, explanation, relevance, importance

JEL Classification: B4

Suggested Citation

Goldfarb, Robert S. and Ratner, Jonathan, Theory and Models: Terminology through the Looking Glass. Econ Journal Watch, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 91-108, January 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1086793

Robert S. Goldfarb (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Economics ( email )

Monroe Hall, Suite 340
2115 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-6147 (Phone)
202-994-6147 (Fax)

Jonathan Ratner

Westat ( email )

1600 Research Blvd
Rockville, MD 20850
United States
301-610-8829 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.westat.com

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