Intension, extension, and the model of belief and knowledge in economics

Authors

  • Ivan Moscati University of Insubria and Bocconi University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v5i2.103

Keywords:

intension, extension, belief, knowledge, interactive belief, state-space model

Abstract

This paper investigates a limitation of the model of belief and knowledge prevailing in mainstream economics, namely the state-space model. Because of its set-theoretic nature, this model has difficulties in capturing the difference between expressions that designate the same object but have different meanings, i.e., expressions with the same extension but different intensions. This limitation generates puzzling results concerning what individuals believe or know about the world as well as what individuals believe or know about what other individuals believe or know about the world. The paper connects these puzzling results to two issues that are relevant for economic theory beyond the state-space model, namely, framing effects and the distinction between the model-maker and agents that appear in the model. Finally, the paper discusses three possible solutions to the limitations of the state-space model, and concludes that the two alternatives that appear practicable also have significant drawbacks.

Author Biography

Ivan Moscati, University of Insubria and Bocconi University

Ivan Moscati is associate professor of economics at the University of Insubria, Varese, and teaches history of economic thought at Bocconi University, Milan. His research focuses on the history and methodology of economics. He is currently working on a research project on the history of utility measurement. The first installment of the project is forthcoming in History of Political Economy under the title “Were Jevons, Menger, and Walras really cardinalists?: on the notion of measurement in utility theory, psychology, mathematics and other disciplines, ca. 1870–1910”.

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Published

2012-11-23

How to Cite

Moscati, I. (2012). Intension, extension, and the model of belief and knowledge in economics. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 5(2), 1-26. https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v5i2.103

Issue

Section

Articles