Economic theories and their Dueling interpretations

Itzhak Gilboa*, Andrew Postlewaite, Larry Samuelson, David Schmeidler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The interpretation of economic theories varies along several dimensions. First, models can describe reality, illustrate a recommended state of affairs, or analyze the structure and implications of a theory. Second, theories can be used for prediction or for explanation. Third, theories can relate to reality in a rule-based or case-based manner. Fourth, theories can be statements about economic reality or about the act of economic reasoning itself. Fifth, theories can offer predictions or merely critique reasoning. We argue that theories are often open to multiple interpretations which can shift depending on the context in which the theory is applied, the surrounding economic literature, and the argument made by the interpreter.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Economic Methodology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Economic theory
  • analogies
  • criticism
  • economic methodology
  • explanation
  • models


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