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Lars Pålsson Syll

Lars Pålsson Syll

Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

Articles by Lars Pålsson Syll

Econometrics — a second-best explanatory practice

3 days ago

From Lars Syll
Consider two elections, A and B. For each of them, identify the events that cause a given percentage of voters to turn out. Once we have thus explained the turnout in election A and the turnout in election B, the explanation of the difference (if any) follows automatically, as a by-product. As a bonus, we might be able to explain whether identical turnouts in A and B are accidental, that is, due to differences that exactly offset each other, or not. In practice, this procedure might be too demanding. The data or he available theories might not allow us to explain the phenomena “in and of themselves.” We should be aware, however, that if we do resort to explanation of variation, we are engaging in a second-best explanatory practice.
Modern econometrics is fundamentally

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Till minnet av en vän (personal)

4 days ago

Till minnet av en vän (personal)

År 2018 var — precis som de flesta år — ett år med både glädje och sorg.
För mig kommer året ändå alltid att främst förknipppas med att det var året då Bengt Nilsson, min bäste vän sedan mer än trettio år, gick ur tiden.
Under många år åkte vi på sommaren i väg ut i Europa. Första gången var 1988. Då gick färden med vår gamla rostiga Merca till Berlin och Prag. Sista gången var sommaren 2018. Då gick färden till Flensburg, Rømø, och Ribe.
Inga ord kan riktigt beskriva vad man känner när en människa man älskat inte längre finns där. Man minns skratten, glädjen, omtanken, den mäktiga intelligensen, den drastiska humorn, och det starka sociala patoset.
I dag är det tre år sedan du gick bort, min vän. Livet går vidare — men

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Jacques Lacan — a severe case of obscurantism

5 days ago

Jacques Lacan — a severe case of obscurantism

To lure the intended or preferred audience into accepting an assertion or set of assertions, the obscurantist should first of all convince the reader that there is indeed a deep and profound insight lurking underneath the surface of his prima facie incomprehensible statements. The obscurantist’s hope is to persuade the intended reader that the hidden treasure, the true meaning, is indeed so valu able and so revealing that he is willing to invest a huge hermeneutic effort in trying to understand whatever his hermeneutic efforts indicate as the “true meaning” of what Lacan says. As Lacan himself put it in a defiant mood: “L’écrit, ça n’est pas à comprendre. C’est bien pour ça que vous n’êtes pas forcés de

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What Žižek and other postmodern obscurantists have in common

5 days ago

What Žižek and other postmodern obscurantists have in common

Among the soft obscurantists some aim at truth, but do not respect the norms for arriving at truth, such as focusing on causality, acting as devil’s advocate, and generating falsifiable hypotheses. Others do not aim at truth, and often scorn the very idea that there is such a thing. By assumption, these non-respecters of truth cannot be reached by argument, only by ridicule …
Let me mention who they are, by discipline and by name. Disciplines include deconstructionism, postmodernism, subaltern theory, post-colonialism, queer theory, gender theory. Some names are Jacques Derrida, Bruno Latour, Gayatri Spivak, Alain Badiou, Slavoj  Žižek, Homi K. Bhabha, Judith Butler.
Jon Elster

When

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Econometrics — a second-best explanatory practice

6 days ago

Econometrics — a second-best explanatory practice

Consider two elections, A and B. For each of them, identify the events that cause a given percentage of voters to turn out. Once we have thus explained the turnout in election A and the turnout in election B, the explanation of the difference (if any) follows automatically, as a by-product. As a bonus, we might be able to explain whether identical turnouts in A and B are accidental, that is, due to differences that exactly offset each other, or not. In practice, this procedure might be too demanding. The data or he available theories might not allow us to explain the phenomena “in and of themselves.” We should be aware, however, that if we do resort to explanation of variation, we are engaging in a

Read More »

MMT and the deficit myth

7 days ago

From Lars Syll
What Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) does is more or less what Knut Wicksell tried to do more than a hundred years ago, when he in 1898 wrote on ‘pure credit systems’ in Interest and Prices (Geldzins und Güterpreise). The difference is that today the ‘pure credit economy’ is a reality and not just a theoretical curiosity — MMT describes a fiat currency system that almost every country in the world is operating under.
In modern times legal currencies are totally based on fiat. Currencies no longer have intrinsic value (as gold and silver). What gives them value is basically the simple fact that you have to pay your taxes with them. That also enables governments to run a kind of monopoly business where it never can run out of money. A fortiori, spending becomes the prime

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MMT and the deficit myth

9 days ago

MMT and the deficit myth

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What Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) does is more or less what Knut Wicksell tried to do more than a hundred years ago, when he in 1898 wrote on ‘pure credit systems’ in Interest and Prices (Geldzins und Güterpreise). The difference is that today the ‘pure credit economy’ is a reality and not just a theoretical curiosity — MMT describes a fiat currency system that almost every country in the world is operating under.
In modern times legal currencies are totally based on fiat. Currencies no longer have intrinsic value (as gold and silver). What gives them value is basically the simple fact that you have to pay your taxes with them. That also enables governments to run a kind of monopoly business where it never can

Read More »

Finansretoriska rådet — en mental härdsmälta

10 days ago

Finansretoriska rådet — en mental härdsmälta

Ett roligt klipp cirkulerar på John Hassler, professor i nationalekonomi och ledamot i Finanspolitiska rådet.
“Vi blev utskällda efter noter av finansministern”, säger han och tittar sorgset in i kameran.
Tydligen blev Magdalena Andersson (S) inte så imponerad av de politiska slutsatser som Finanspolitiska rådet överlämnade 2015. Hassler är fortfarande sur. “Finansretoriska rådet” kallade hon dem.
Efteråt behövde de stackars professorerna en “debriefing” med John Hasslers ordval.
Begreppet “debriefing” kommer ursprungligen från det militära och är en form av krisbearbetning som förebygger posttraumatiskt stressyndrom efter skarpa insatser.
Tänk svenska specialförband på Kabuls flygplats, poliser som jagar

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Analytical bias

12 days ago

From Lars Syll

The world is made up of systems.  Our body is a system, or in fact a system of systems.  What we call “society” is another system of systems, as is the natural environment …
But these systems are very complex, difficult to explain or predict.  One successful strategy, which has had a revolutionary impact on how we live, is analysis …
By biting off chewable portions of a much larger world, science makes it possible to achieve progress in our understanding of how things work …
But this approach, for all its benefits, fails to capture most of the interactive effects that make a system a system.  It leads us to overstate the separateness of the things we study and observe and to understate their connectedness.  This is not an argument against thinking analytically, but for

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September 11, 2001

12 days ago

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Impotence must eventually bring about what good will ought to have done but did not do: that each state becomes so organized internally that it is not the head of state, whom war really costs nothing (since he wages it at another’s cost, namely that of the people), who has the decisive voice as to whether there is to be war or not, but instead the people, which pays for it.
Immanuel Kant

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Kan Magdalena Andersson släppa den nyliberala modellen?

13 days ago

Kan Magdalena Andersson släppa den nyliberala modellen?

Trots att ingen längre säger sig vara nyliberal, så dominerar de neoklassiska ekonomiska modeller som nobelpristagaren Milton Friedman skapade nyliberalismen av, den verkställda ekonomiska politiken. Det vill säga att ”marknadens” kollektiva visdom är den bärande bjälken som politiken har att förhålla sig till. Inte ens Socialdemokraterna, med finansministern och den sannolika partiledaren Magdalena Andersson i spetsen, vill släppa den modellen …
Jag vill hävda att detta fullskaleexperiment med nyliberala idéer inte har varit rakt igenom lyckosamma utan har skapat det mesta av de sociala och ekonomiska spänningar som vi idag har att brottas med, i form av växande ojämlikhet och socialt utanförskap

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Modern macro — ‘genuine plurality’ vs. ‘axiomatic variation’

13 days ago

From Lars Syll
The DSGE mainstream — which is made up of new classical macroeconomics and neo-Keynesianism — is unanimously based on the core assumptions that characterize the paradigm of social exchange theory. These are rationality, ergodicity and substitutionality, the exclusive acceptance of a formal mathematical-deductive, positivist reductionism. After the ‘empirical turn’ of the last two or three decades, these have been combined with sophisticated micro- and macroeconometrics, or with experimental arrangements, such as are familiar from the leading natural sciences (physics and chemistry). The postulate of stability and optimality (Walras’s law), which is implemented a priori in the core assumptions, serves as a ‘model solution,’ and thus functions as a marker of a negative

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On logic and science

15 days ago

From Lars Syll

That logic should have been thus successful is an advantage which it owes entirely to its limitations, whereby it is justified in abstracting — indeed, it is under obligation to do so — from all objects of knowledge and their differences, leaving the understanding nothing to deal with save itself and its form. But for reason to enter on the sure path of science is, of course, much more difficult, since it has to deal not with itself alone but also with objects. Logic, therefore, as a propaedeutic, forms, as it were, only the vestibule of the sciences; and when we are concerned with specific modes of knowledge, while logic is indeed presupposed in any critical estimate of them, yet for the actual acquiring of them we have to look to the sciences properly so called, that

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Analytical bias

16 days ago

The world is made up of systems.  Our body is a system, or in fact a system of systems.  What we call “society” is another system of systems, as is the natural environment …
But these systems are very complex, difficult to explain or predict.  One successful strategy, which has had a revolutionary impact on how we live, is analysis …
By biting off chewable portions of a much larger world, science makes it possible to achieve progress in our understanding of how things work …
But this approach, for all its benefits, fails to capture most of the interactive effects that make a system a system.  It leads us to overstate the separateness of the things we study and observe and to understate their connectedness.  This is not an argument against thinking analytically, but for

Read More »

Modern macro — ‘genuine plurality’ vs. ‘axiomatic variation’

17 days ago

The DSGE mainstream — which is made up of new classical macroeconomics and neo-Keynesianism — is unanimously based on the core assumptions that characterize the paradigm of social exchange theory. These are rationality, ergodicity and substitutionality, the exclusive acceptance of a formal mathematical-deductive, positivist reductionism. After the ‘empirical turn’ of the last two or three decades, these have been combined with sophisticated micro- and macroeconometrics, or with experimental arrangements, such as are familiar from the leading natural sciences (physics and chemistry). The postulate of stability and optimality (Walras’s law), which is implemented a priori in the core assumptions, serves as a ‘model solution,’ and thus functions as a marker of a negative

Read More »