Causation in Economics
The concept of one variable making a causal contribution to another variable seems to be related to the answer to what-if questions. What account of causal contributions and what-if questions best suits economics?
The interventionist answer to this question assumes that structural equations are modular. In contrast, what I call the ceteris paribus approach drops this modularity assumption. However, the result is often that causal contributions and what-if questions are indeterminate:
Economics and Psychology
Would economics better achieve its aims if it were to use concepts, theories, and evidence from neuroscience, cognitive science, or commonsense psychology? The mentalist tradition says yes, and behavioural tradition says no.
To make sense of this debate over the relationship between economics and psychology, I argue that one needs to distinguish the ultimate aims of economics as discipline (on the one hand) from the best means of pursuing those aims (on the other hand).
Behavioural Approach to Ultimate Aims
I defend "revealed preference theory" by defending the idea that economics does not ultimately aim to study agents' psychology:
Mentalist Approach to Means
Nevertheless, it's possible in principle that studying neuroscience and cognitive science may be a reasonable means of pursuing economics ultimate aims, even though those aims are not psychological:
Problems for Functionalism
At any rate, I think there is something unhelpful about how this controversy is typically framed. This is because the key notions in the controversy "psychological state" and even "choice behaviour" are ambiguous. On this basis I argue that the distinction between the mentalist and behavioural traditions is very blurry. Also, on this basis, I point out a dilemma for "functionalist" varieties of mentalism.