The Pursuit of Coherence in Mainstream Macroeconomic Methodology

17 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2021

See all articles by Sheila C. Dow

Sheila C. Dow

University of Stirling - Department of Economics; University of Victoria - Faculty of Business

Date Written: December 14, 2021


The coherence of mainstream macroeconomics is threatened by inconsistency between the core theoretical model and the empirically grounded models used for policy advice. The field has evolved in response to policy demands in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But this evolution has been constrained by the emphasis of the core theoretical approach on a particular representation of microfoundations. Yet the notion of internal consistency by which this microfoundations project is justified is challenged by a broader philosophical notion of consistency. The long-running expression of opposition in mainstream macroeconomics between logical and empirical coherence (or between rigor and realism) accordingly requires further examination of how real economic systems are understood and how knowledge about them is to be built and assessed. If mainstream macroeconomics is to continue to deviate from the core model by virtue of open-system ontology, then in order to ensure coherence, the characteristics of that system need to be articulated, and their implications for methodology worked out.

Keywords: macroeconomic theory,applied macroeconomics,microfoundations,methodology,epistemology,ontology

JEL Classification: B22,B4,

Suggested Citation

Dow, Sheila C., The Pursuit of Coherence in Mainstream Macroeconomic Methodology (December 14, 2021). Capitalism & Society, Volume 15, Issue 1 (2021), Available at SSRN:

Sheila C. Dow (Contact Author)

University of Stirling - Department of Economics ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

University of Victoria - Faculty of Business ( email )

Victoria, British Columbia

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