EIPE 20 Anniversary Conference, Day 3

Some of you might cry of shame because today I skipped the plenary session. However, in the last few days I’ve had so heavy a schedule that I needed to make some time for taking some photos of the city (at least the neighbouring parts) and the campus. Success, I managed to take all the pictures I wanted.

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Then I joined the parallel sessions. I could catch some interesting pieces. For example, Melissa Vergara Fernández devoted her speech the problem of what are philosophical theories of models good for. A lively debate was triggered by the speech, even Marcel Boumans gave his thoughts, but for me personally the most interesting point was this figure, below:

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It clearly reveals how the structure of economic research has changed during the last few decades. This dynamics can really underpin the point that the balance between “theory and measurement” is radically moved towards the position of measurement without theories. I am afraid, the era of grand theories is over. Once and for all…?

Ahmet Dincer Cevik’s talk also triggered serious debates, even though his fundamental thought was right. Economic laws hold for a while, but later some laws may cease to exist, at least in a particular spatio-temporal environment. The conclusion he drew also seemed to be grounded: such a failure doesn’t corrupt the initial validity. But this is simple. This is how social world works. Physical reality is one and timeless-at least in human terms. But our social environment keeps changing, so it is not surprising if a law-like tendency happens to break down.

Lukasz Hardt noted an interesting feuture of scientific explanation. Sometimes even simple algebra proves to be useful in explaining social phenomena. For example, the fact that 33 cannot be devided by 2 with no remainder can explain the event that a mother is not able to divide 33 cherries between her two daughters without cutting. Cutting a cherry, of course.

The day and the conference was closed by an informal event when the founders of EIPE accompanied by some of their earlier students talked about the past, the present, and the future of EIPE.

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It was really a fascinating three-day intellectual adventure. The conference has brought some new acquaintances or even friends-time will tell. There was a heavy load on me to take in so many new insights… but in the end I am happy but tired. It is about time for me to leave Rotterdam for my home that I am missing so much now. Now only a few things remained. I need to pack my suitcase, set my alarm clock and then get to the airport early in the morning. But I am doing so in the hope of coming back here once.

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One thought on “EIPE 20 Anniversary Conference, Day 3

  1. Łukasz

    Thank you for referring to my presentation during the conference. As far as the idea of distinctively mathematical explanations in science in general and in economics in particular is concerned, I am to offer the whole chapter on it in my forthcoming book entitled Economics without Laws which is to be published soon: http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783319548609

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