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MET 528: Scientific Methods, Spring 2024

Last updated: 2023-12-18, after coordination with the department.

The course is divided into two parts. The first part concern philosophy of science and scientific-internal questions, the second part discusses scientific practice from external perspectives: Historical, ethical, political, sustainability, and the sociology of scientific practice.

The aim is that students should know and discuss the most common arguments made on the knowledge-theoretical grounding of scientific practice in economics and related fields such as finance and management science.


MET528 will be given in weekly lectures. We will meet in Auditorium I, every Tuesday afternoon throughout the semester, from 1415 to 1600. First day of lecturing is January 9, last day is April 16. There is no lecture March 26.


There is a mandatory term paper with deadline by the end of the lectures. Supervision will be available for the choice of topic and method to approach it. Students are expected to present their topic to the class at an early stage. For course approval, (1) active participation in class, (2) the presentation of term paper topic and (3) an acceptable term paper is required.

The deadline of the term paper is 2024-05-03. There will also be a written exam on 2024-06-20 to test understanding of the written material.


There are two required books:

  • Samir Okasha (2016). Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction. Second Edition, Oxford University Press.
  • Nancy Cartwright and Eleonora Montuschi eds. (2014). Philosophy of Social Science: A New Introduction. Oxford University Press.

These books have been ordered to Akademika and should be available for ordering through the department admin if you want to use your department funding. All of the book by Okasha is mandatory, much of Cartwright and Montuschi will also be mandatory.

There will also be a number of papers to read that will be made available later.

Lecture plan

Note that the reading marked with an “*” will be considered particularly important when it comes to testing on the written exam. All listed readings are relevant, and for the evaluation of your term paper, whether there is an ‘*’ attached to a reading is of no consequence.

  1. 2024-01-09. Introduction and motivation. Why do we need (a) philosophy of science?
  2. 2024-01-16. Popper and some classical challenges
  3. 2024-01-23. Scientific explanations
    • Deborah Tollefsen (2014). Social Ontology. In Cartwright and Montuschi, chapter 5, p 85-101.
    • Helen Longino (2014). Individuals or Populations? In Cartwright and Montuschi, chapter 6, p 102-120.
    • * Joseph Heath (2005). Methodological Individualism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2005 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
    • * Kevin Hoover (2009) Microfoundations and the Ontology of Macroeconomics. in Harold Kincaid and Donald Ross, editors, Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Economic Science*. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009; ch. 14, pp. 386-409.
  4. 2024-01-30. Causality
  5. 2024-02-06. Statistics: measurement, prediction and inference
    • * Milton Friedman (1953). The Methodology of Positive Economics. Excerpt from Essays in Positive Economics, University of Chicago Press. Reprinted in Readings in The Philosophy of Social Science (ed: Michael Martin and Lee C. McIntyre, MIT Press, 1994), page 647-660.
    • * John H. Cochrane (1989). The Sensitivity of Tests of the Intertemporal Allocation of Consumption to Near-Rational Alternatives. American Economic Review, 79(3): 319-337.
    • Nancy Cartwright and Rosa Runhardt (2014). Measurement. In Cartwright and Montuschi, chapter 14, p 265-287.
  6. 2024-02-13. Statistical practice
  7. 2024-02-20. Economists making things happen
    • * Eileen Munro (2014). Evidence-Based Policy. In Cartwright and Montuschi, Chapter 3, p 48-67.
    • Michel Callon (2007). What Does It Mean to Say That Economics Is Performative? Chapter 11, p. 311-357 of Do Economists make Markets (ed by MacKenzie, Muniesa and Siu), Princeton University Press.
    • Ferraro et al (2005). Economics Language and Assumptions: How Theories can Become Self-Fulfilling. Academy of Management Research. 30(1), 8-24.
  8. 2024-02-27. The history of a scientific subject These readings are not selected only for their contents, but for the different approaches to writing intellectual history they represent.
  9. 2024-03-05. The social science of science
  10. 2024-03-12. Presentations of term paper ideas Each participant prepares a 3-slide presentation of their plan for the termpaper: 1) What is the question, 2) How will you address the question, and 3) What kind of conclusion do you think is possible.
  11. 2024-03-19 The politics of science
  12. 2024-04-02. Implicit and explicit perspectives and values
    • Eleonora Montuschi (2014). Scientific Objectivity. In Cartwright and Montuschi, Chapter 7, p 123-144.
    • * Sharon Crasnow (2014). Feminist Standpoint Theory. In Cartwright and Montuschi, Chapter 8, p 145-161.
    • Heather Douglas (2014). Values in Social Science. In Cartwright and Montuschi, Chapter 9, p 162-182.
  13. 2024-04-09. Research ethics
  14. 2024-04-16. Interdisciplinarity and non-orthodox traditions