Prediction versus accommodation in economics

Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (1):59-69 (2019)
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Should we insist on prediction, i.e. on correctly forecasting the future? Or can we rest content with accommodation, i.e. empirical success only with respect to the past? I apply general considerations about this issue to the case of economics. In particular, I examine various ways in which mere accommodation can be sufficient, in order to see whether those ways apply to economics. Two conclusions result. First, an entanglement thesis: the need for prediction is entangled with the methodological role of orthodox economic theory. Second, a conditional predictivism: if we are not committed to orthodox economic theory, then we should demand prediction rather than accommodation – against most current practice.

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Robert Northcott
Birkbeck, University of London


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