The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Lawrence A. Boland
Reference work entry


Conventionalism is the methodological doctrine that asserts that explanatory ideas should not be considered true or false but merely better or worse. The truth status of theories cannot be so easily dismissed. While a choice of language may be conventional, the truth status is not a matter of convenient choice. Among economists the most common practice is to avoid using the words ‘true’ (or ‘false’) when discussing models and assumptions and instead to invoke ‘best’ by using a conventionalist theory-choice truth-likeness criterion. The notion of a conventionalist theory-choice criterion presumes a philosophical necessity to choose one theory among competitors.


Aumann, R. Conventionalism Conventions Friedman, M. Hume, D. Instrumentalism Lucas, R. Mathematics and economics Methodological pluralism Methodology of economics Popper, K. Probability calculus Problem of induction Samuelson, P. Simon, H. Subjective and objective probability Testing 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence A. Boland
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