What is it about?

Mathematical models in economic theory are metaphors.

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Why is it important?

Mathematics in economics has become indispensable. It has also become very abstract. But it is important to remember that the place of mathematics in economics is still debated.


It took a great deal of time and effort to write Mathematics, Metaphor and Economic Visualisability. I had been interested in physics at the time (as an educated reader, not a professional one) and the debate about "visualisability" among the early quantum theorists struck me as important for economics. I originally set out to explore this point only to find myself step by step drawn into the surprisingly vast literature on metaphor. The metaphorical nature of mathematical models in economics became the main thrust of the paper with the idea of visualisability now more clearly defined as the clarity or vividness of the metaphors which create analogies between mathematical objects and elements of the economic reality.

Dr Peter J Phillips
University of Southern Queensland

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This page is a summary of: Mathematics, Metaphors and Economic Visualisability, The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, November 2007, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s12113-007-9024-0.
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