The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Julian Reiss
Reference work entry


Explaining socio-economic phenomena is one important aim of economics. There is very little agreement, however, on what precisely constitutes an adequate economic explanation. Starting from the very influential but defective ‘deductive-nomological model’ of explanation, this article describes and criticizes the major contemporary competitors for such an account (the probabilistic–causal, the mechanistic–causal and the unificationist models) and argues that none of them can by itself capture all aspects of a good explanation. When seeking to explain a socio-economic phenomenon it should therefore be borne in mind that different types of explanation serve different purposes.


Causality in economics and econometrics Economic laws Equilibrium Explanation Laws of nature Methodology of economics Positive economics Probability Statistical inference 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Reiss
    • 1
  1. 1.