Explanatory Value in Context: The Curious Case of Hotelling’s Location Model

N. Emrah Aydinonat, Emin Köksal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


There is a striking contrast between the significance of Harold Hotelling’s contribution to industrial economics and the fact that his location model was invalid, unrealistic and non-robust. It is difficult to make sense of the explanatory value of Hotelling’s model based on philosophical accounts that emphasize logical validity, representational adequacy, and robustness as determinants of explanatory value. However, these accounts are misleading because they overlook the context within which the explanatory value added of a model is apprehensible. We present Hotelling’s model in its historical context and show why it is an important and explanatory model despite its apparent deficiencies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of the History of Economic Thought
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)879-910
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 611 Philosophy
  • explanation
  • models
  • idealization
  • 511 Economics
  • spatial competition
  • Harold Hotelling
  • Hotelling model
  • principle of minimum differentiation

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