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The Limitations of Mathematical Modeling in Economics and the Advantages of Praxeological Analysis


Economics, as a social science, seeks to understand and explain the complex interactions of human action within the realm of scarcity. Over the years, various methodologies have been employed to study and analyse economic phenomena. One prominent approach involves mathematical modelling, which attempts to capture economic relationships through quantitative techniques. However, top and well-known thinkers and economists, as exemplified by Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, argue that such modelling has inherent limitations. They advocate for an alternative method known as praxeological analysis, which emphasises the understanding of human action and its implications for economic systems. I will attempt to explain, in my opinion, why there are limitations in mathematical modelling and the advantages of praxeological analysis.

The Limitations of Mathematical Modelling

Assumptions and simplifications: Mathematical models in economics rely heavily on assumptions and simplifications to make the complexity of real-world economic systems tractable. While simplifying assumptions can be useful, they often oversimplify the intricate nature of human action. Economies are composed of individuals with unique preferences, knowledge, and expectations, which are difficult to capture accurately through mathematical equations.

Data Limitations: Mathematical models often require large amounts of precise and reliable data to function effectively. However, in economics, such comprehensive and accurate data is often lacking or difficult to obtain. Economic phenomena involve multifaceted variables influenced by human behaviour, making it challenging to quantify and incorporate all relevant factors into a mathematical model.

Dynamic and Complex Systems: Economic systems are dynamic and constantly evolving. Individual actions, incentives, and expectations all interact to influence them. Mathematical models, by their nature, tend to assume equilibrium conditions and rely on static relationships. This static approach fails to capture the dynamic nature of economic systems, resulting in a limited understanding of real-world phenomena.

Overemphasis on Mathematical Rigour: Mathematical models in economics often prioritise mathematical rigour over realistic assumptions and qualitative understanding. This overemphasis on mathematical formalism can lead to a detachment from the reality of human behaviour, rendering the models less relevant and applicable to real-world economic situations.

The Advantages of Praxeological Analysis

Understanding Human Action: Hayek and Mises' methodology, praxeology, places a strong emphasis on understanding human action as the fundamental building block of economic phenomena. By studying the purposeful behaviour of individuals, praxeology seeks to uncover the underlying motivations and consequences of human action. This approach provides valuable insights into the complexities of economic systems that cannot be captured solely through mathematical modelling.

"A Priori" Deductive Reasoning: Praxeology employs deductive reasoning based on a priori knowledge, independent of empirical observations. It recognises that economic relationships are built on logical deductions from fundamental axioms about human action. This deductive approach allows for the derivation of general principles that hold true across time and place, providing a framework for understanding economic phenomena that mathematical models often overlook. "these truths we hold self-evident..."

Emphasis on Real-World Complexity: Praxeological analysis recognises the intricate and dynamic nature of economic systems. By focusing on the individual's subjective values, knowledge, and choices, praxeology acknowledges the inherent complexity of human behaviour and its impact on economic outcomes. This nuanced understanding enables economists and thinkers to appreciate real-world complexities and avoid the oversimplifications inherent in mathematical models.

Policy Implications: Praxeological analysis has practical policy implications. By emphasising the role of individual decision-making, it highlights the importance of respecting the spontaneous order of the market and the limitations of central planning. This insight has significant implications for understanding the unintended consequences of government interventions, enabling policymakers to make more informed decisions.

While mathematical modelling has its uses in economics, it has inherent limitations that prevent a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of human behaviour and economic systems. By embracing praxeology, economists and thinkers gain deeper insights into the complexities of economic phenomena, creating a more nuanced understanding of the world and better-informed policy (belief system) decisions. From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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