Mark Blaug's unrealistic crusade for realistic economics


  • Uskali Mäki University of Helsinki, Finland



economic methodology, falsificationism, realism, realisticness, relevance, rigour, economic modelling, institutions of inquiry, Mark Blaug


Mark Blaug's normative methodology of economics is an attempt to articulate certain intuitions about how economic science could be improved by making it more "realistic". I discuss two such articulations, one in terms of falsificationist principles, the other in terms of an alleged trade-off between relevance and mathematical rigour. My conclusion is that Blaug's methodology is itself unrealistic, both descriptively and normatively. His (well intended) methodological prescriptions for the improvement of economics are not based on a systematic, consistent, descriptively adequate, and normatively viable account. I suggest that Blaug's intuitions can be developed into a more realistic account by incorporating the analysis of two further topics: economic modelling and the institutions of academic research.

Author Biography

Uskali Mäki, University of Helsinki, Finland

Uskali Mäki is academy professor at the Academy of Finland, professor of practical philosophy at University of Helsinki, and director of the Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT), based at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki. He is former academic director of the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE), former editor of the Journal of Economic Methodology (JEM), and former chair of the International Network for Economic Method (INEM). His research interests include models and idealizations, local scientific realism, interdisciplinarity, and scientific imperialism.




How to Cite

Mäki, U. (2014). Mark Blaug’s unrealistic crusade for realistic economics. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 6(3), 87–103.