The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Scientific Realism and Ontology

  • Uskali Mäki
Reference work entry


This article defines the concept of realism and explores its implications for ontology, defending the idea of ontological realism and its relevance to economics, while rejecting the idea of some special ‘realist ontology’ that informs us about the ways of the real world. The main focus is on what it is for the world (its constituents, structure, and ways of functioning) to exist. Economics-relevant scientific realism suggests that much of the social world is characterized by non-causal science-independence. Implications of this are outlined for causation, social construction, economics-dependence of the economy, modelling, and truth in economics.


Causal realism Causality in economics Granger-causality Hume, D Methodological individualism Microfoundations Mind-independence Models Neuroeconomics Normal science Ontological realism Ontology Rhetoric of economics Science-independence Scientific realism Social constructivism 

JEL Classification

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uskali Mäki
    • 1
  1. 1.