Introducing Formalism in Economics: The Growth Model of John von Neumann
The objective is to interpret John von Neumann's growth model as a decisive step of the forthcoming formalist revolution of the 1950s in economics. This model gave rise to an impressive variety of comments about its classical or neoclassical underpinnings. We go beyond this traditional criterion and interpret rather this model as the manifestation of von Neumann's involvement in the formalist programme of mathematician David Hilbert. We discuss the impact of Kurt Gödel’s discoveries on this programme. We show that the growth model reflects the pragmatic turn of the formalist programme after Gödel and proposes the extension of modern axiomatisation to economics.
Key words: Von Neumann, Growth model, Formalist revolution, Mathematical formalism, Axiomatics.
JEL: A12, B23, B41, C02.