The Methodology of Experimental Economics



Francesco Guala, University of Milan Cambridge University Press 2005.

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The experimental approach is a driving force behind some of the most exciting developments in economics. The "experimental revolution" was based on a series of bold philosophical premises that have remained until now mostly unexplored. This book provides the first comprehensive analysis and critical discussion of the methodology of experimental economics, written by a philosopher of science with expertise in the field. It outlines the fundamental principles of experimental inference in order to investigate their power, scope, and limitations. The author demonstrates that experimental economists have a lot to gain by discussing openly the philosophical ideas that guide their work, and that philosophers of science have much to learn from the ingenious techniques devised by experimenters in order to tackle difficult scientific problems.



"Guala's book, The Methodology of Experimental Economics, is a remarkable achievement [...] a splendid and instructive read."

(Dan Hausman, Journal of Economic Methodology 15 (2008), pp. 209-216)


"Guala has produced what I expect will become a classic in the philosophy of economics, and one of the most useful books in general philosophy of science we will see this decade."

(Don Ross, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2008), pp. 247-252)


"I can hardly imagine a better exercise in intellectual ground clearing for debates in experimental and behavioural economics than Guala's book, and I recommend it highly."

(Shepley Orr, Economics and Philosophy 23 (2007), pp. 401-407).


"We have to think about a purely social science orientated methodology for experimental research. Guala's book is a very important step on the way to such a methodological framework. It is a great pleasure to read this book and it is worth reading for a wide range of people."

(Joachim Weimann, Journal of Economic Literature 64 (2006), pp. 726-728.)


"Guala's is a stimulating and useful work, and the way the author assesses the role of experiments within his theory of inductive inferences is largely convincing."

(Ivan Moscati, History of Economic Ideas, 14 (2006), pp. 123-130.)


"[...] a major contribution to the philosophy of economics [...] an important step in economic sociology too."

(Fabian Muniesa, European Economic Sociology Newsletter, 7 (2), February 2006.)                                             


See also:


Shaun Hargreaves-Heap's, Anna Alexandrova's, and Frank Hindriks's articles in the Journal of Economic Methodology review symposium, with my "reply to critics" (no. 15, 2008, pp. 197-231).


David Teira's review, in Theoria, 57 (2006), pp. 342-343 (in Spanish).


Flavio Felice's review, in the Review of Metaphysics, 59 (2006), pp. 888-889.