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Review of Nicola Giocoli (2003) 'Modelling Rational Agents: From Interwar Economics To Early Modern Game Theory'

Denis, A. (2006). Review of Nicola Giocoli (2003) 'Modelling Rational Agents: From Interwar Economics To Early Modern Game Theory'. Economics and Philosophy, 22(1), pp. 159-166. doi: 10.1017/S0266267106210824


Giocoli (2003) won awards from ESHET and, in its original form as Giocoli’s PhD thesis, from HES. It lives up to its promise. According to Giocoli, in the period between the 1890s and the 1980s a transformation took place in the way that economists thought about what it was that they were doing. The essence of this was a shift from a ‘systems of forces’ (SOF) to a ‘system of relations’ (SOR) view. The former focuses on economic forces including those leading to equilibrium, the latter on the properties of possible equilibria without consideration of the forces which might underpin them. The review agrees with Giocoli that this constituted a retrograde step: abstract, static mathematical rigour and formalism replace the attempt to understand real-world economic change. Linking the book to Mary Poovey’s (1998) “History of the Modern Fact”, the review welcomes the attempt to write ‘epistemological history’ of economics.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an author-final version of article published in Cambridge Journal, Economics and Philosophy. The final version can be found here:
Publisher Keywords: B, history of economic thought, methodology, Neumann, Nash, epistemological history
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
SWORD Depositor:
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