By Erwin Klein
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Additional info for Economic Theories and their Relational Structures: A Model-Theoretic Characterization
2 Economic Theories and their Relational Structures INTENDEDLY EMPIRICAL THEORIES Moreover, what is an empirical structure? From a logical point of view it is not possible to distinguish between a theory of pure mathematics and a theory of mathematical economics. As Suppes (1967) has pointed out in a much broader context, the distinction between pure mathematics and theoretical science (applied mathematics) is spurious. All such theories have set-theoretical entities as their referents. Hence, a deeper insight into the nature of empirical theories - economic theories, in particular - requires that the description of their logical features be complemented with some information regarding the ontological and epistemological status of the objects which make up the domains of the structure(s) they talk about.
The suggested taxonomy criterion will permit a classification of economic theories according to their intended epistemological status and instrumental roles. Although the contents of Part II are, in an essential way, a by-product of the original main objectives of the investigation, their presence could be independently motivated by our viewpoint regarding the need for a taxonomy alternative to the customary textbook dichotomy 'positivenormative'. The latter is not only too often misunderstood but it is also, for our purposes, too simplistic a classification for capturing characteristic methodological features of economic-theoretical research.
In an adequate operative theory, some axioms will appropriately characterize, at a formal level, the normative criteria (for instance, those embodied in a particular social welfare function), the operation constraints (for instance, the available resources and the institutional rules) and the suitable actions (for example, the available policy mechanisms). These axioms - especially those characterizing the normative criteria - may have been dictated by extra-theoretical motivations (value judgements) and thus deserve the designation 'value axioms'.