- Experiments versus models: New phenomena, inference and Surprise
- Journal of Economic Methodology
- Volume | Issue number
- 12 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam School of Economics Research Institute (ASE-RI)
A comparison of models and experiments supports the argument that although both function as mediators and can be understood to work in an experimental mode, experiments offer greater epistemic power than models as a means to investigate the economic world. This outcome rests on the distinction that whereas experiments are versions of the real world captured within an artificial laboratory environment, models are artificial worlds built to represent the real world. This difference in ontology has epistemic consequences: experiments have greater potential to make strong inferences back to the world, but also have the power to isolate new phenomena. This latter power is manifest in the possibility that whereas working with models may lead to `surprise¿, experimental results may be unexplainable within existing theory and so `confound¿ the experimenter.
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