Research Highlight

Professor Jennifer Jhun

Jenn Jhun smiling at a workshop.

Who is/are your favorite philosopher(s)? Why?

I never have a good answer to this question, so I will offer the answer to a different one. One philosopher I happen to be having a lot of fun reading these days is Thomas Hobbes. 

How would you describe your research program?

My interests are a bit eclectic, but my main research program investigates how economists construct and use models. Themes like explanation, idealization, and representation come up all the time. 

What issues or questions in philosophy are you most excited by?

I’m largely curious about why economists do the things that they do. But more generally, I’m interested in how we make sense of causally complex systems, especially those we want to understand because we might want to intervene on them.

Jenn Jhun chats with workshop participants.

What project/paper/collaboration/etc. are you proudest of so far?

I will always have a soft spot for the first thing I published, which came out in 2018. In “What’s the Point of Ceteris Paribus? Or: How to Understand Supply and Demand Curves,” I compare reasoning strategies in thermodynamics and economics, and argue that they use equilibrium assumptions in kind of the same way. These assumptions help us understand real world systems relative to ideal benchmarks.

What are you currently working on?

At this very moment? I happen to be wondering, why do psychological measurements seem like they are different from physical measurements? I’m also at work on a couple of papers on antitrust analysis (which falls into a subfield of economics called industrial organization).

What next? Any ideas for projects in the pipeline?

Oh, there are so many things that are interesting! For instance, there are various questions related to antitrust analysis that I’d like to get to at some point. How do simple models, like Bertrand and Cournot models, get used in practice? How do different kinds of evidence get integrated? How should we make sense of expertise? Some colleagues and I are also talking about collaborating on a project related to agricultural economics, so that is exciting.

What's the holy grail, pipe dream project? (This doesn't have to be in your AOS, of course, and may even be more fun if it's not.)

That is secret.

Check out Professor Jhun's personal website here!

Photo credits: Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech

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