Economia e matemática

Why is Math, and why we should use it in economics, por Noah Smith. Nem toda a gente consegue falar de metodologia económica, matemática e filosofia ao mesmo tempo. Vale a pena ler quem o consegue fazer de forma escorreita.

So why should we use math in economics? Well, I can think of a number of reasons:
1. We may want to make precise predictions about what will happen in a market.
2. We may want to make precise predictions about the conditions under which things will happen in a market.
3. Precise statements often help resolve debates, avoiding the phenomenon of “talking past each other”.
4. Precise statements often lead to unintuitive but logically inescapable results.
5. It is usually easier to check sets of precise statements for logical inconsistencies.
I think all of these reasons are good reasons sometimes and bad reasons sometimes (note how imprecise of a statement that is!). I have no hard-and-fast rule about how much precision to use, and when. But I do know that if you tried to implement a Shapley-Roth matching algorithm without mathematically precise statements about what happens when, it would be hopeless.
And I also know that in the blogosphere, many debates go on and on without being resolved, when both sides are really just talking past each other. Egos get bruised, grudges develop, and understanding is not advanced, even when the different sides’ positions are not mutually incompatible or even that far off. That’s why, when debates get really long and confusing, I think it’s time to whip out the math, define terms, and get really precise. (By the way: In my experience, defining terms is really the critical piece of this. It’s very very hard to make imprecise statements when all your words are precisely defined!)
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