L'analytique et le synthétique en Economie


Recherches Economiques de Louvain


Departments: Economics & Decision Sciences, GREGHEC (CNRS)

This article applies to microeconomics a classic distinction of the philosophy of language, i.e., that between analytical and synthetic propositions. A further article will combine it with the epistemological distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge. We start by reconsidering the main definitions of the analytical and the synthetic. We rebut Quine's famous objections against them, and then show how they operate on the theory of Giffen goods and substitute goods. The distinction makes it possible to clarify decisions that microeconomists leave implicit, at the risk of falling into semantic traps. In the particular instance, it reinforces the existing critique of Hicks's definition of substitutes. As an secondary contribution, we show that economic methodology wrongly identifies analytical propositions with tautologies, and synthetic propositions with testable onesKeywords: Analytical, synthetic, Quine, Giffen goods, substitutes, Hicks, consumer theory