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Tag Archives: Methodology of Economics

On My Research Program

"I know not how I may seem to the world, but as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." -- Isaac Newton (apocryphal?) For the past couple of years, I have been pursuing a research program that I seem to have stumbled upon. I am looking for fluke switch points, where these fluke switch points...

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The LTV And Commodity Fetishism

You will occasionally come upon supposed refutations of Marx's theory of value that I find just ignorant. One might talk about two divers. One comes up with a handful of sand, and the other comes up with a pearl. They have put in the same labor, but their products are of quite different exchange values. Or consider the labor that goes into making a useless product, something that cannot be sold as a commodity on a market. Obviously, labor does not create value. A refutation can only be...

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Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen On Mathematical Methods In Economic Science

I have long been convinced that many mainstream economists, however they performed under hazing, do not understand mathematics. "T. C. Koopmans, perhaps the greatest defender of the use of the mathematical tool in economics, countered the criticism of the exaggeration of mathematical symbolism by claiming that the critics have not come forward with specific complaints. The occasion was a symposium held in 1954 around a protest by David Novick. But, by an irony of fate, some twenty years...

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Why Do Mainstream Economists Not Make More Out Of The CCC?

Marx is mostly right. That is the conclusion one should draw from capital theory. But honestly understanding how we are fed, clothed, and housed under capitalism is not what academic economics is about. Ownership of property in, say, the United States results in the generation of income. This income takes the form of interest on debt, dividends, capital gains, rent, and so on. Many of those who are among the most wealthy often have returns to property ownership as their only source of...

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A Bowles Taxonomy For Economists

[embedded content]Katzner, Bowles, and Resnick on UMass Amherst Shartly after about 32:30 minutes, Sam Bowles, to laughter, draws a Venn diagram on the board. This is a light talk, and Bowles is explicitly describing economics from his own experience at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Bowles places various economists in various subsets. I have varied the names a bit in my reproduction below. Bowles' Taxonomy I take the universe to be the set of all economists. Or, maybe,...

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Economists Insulting Me And Insulting Keynes

I happen to think the minimum wage in the United States should be raised. I'll go along with the consensus of $15 an hour. I also happen to know that, even under ideal conditions, wages and employment cannot be explained by supply and demand. Some economists, who I no (other) reason to disrespect, seem to think my true statement about labor economics can be discredited by attacking my motivations. So they point out how, under (incoherent) neoclassical theory, higher minimum wages can...

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Two Kinds Of Economists

Or, rather, I classify economists into two kinds on each of three dimensions (Table 1). Table 1: Classifications For Economists Emphasis on social reproductionEmphasis on allocating scarce resourcesMoney non-neutralMoney as a veilEconomic issues arise under competitive model, with all agents in possession of all information actually existingEconomic issues to be explained as a result of deviation from an ideal, competitive model I have written about the first dimension before. Classical...

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Theses For Debate In Reading Marx

I present four claims about Marx's Capital. I strive for topics more general than, for example, squabbles about the transformation problem. I suggest that some of these claims present a useful focus for reading Marx's book, even if part of your focus is arguing why the claim is wrong. If this were more than a blog post, I would need to cite various Marxists and scholars that inspired me. Thesis I: Capital is organized around a model of a pure, two-class capitalist economy. I think the...

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Lack Of Rigor In Mas-Colell, Whinston, And Green

Whether or not the government should intervene in the economy is a false choice. Government and the economy are not too separate and non-intertwined entities. The standard introductory graduate microeconomics textbook now current was written by Mas-Colell, Whinston, and Green. This happens to be from Chapter 15, in the part on the Edgeworth box: "We can now verify a simple but important fact: Any Walrasian equilibrium allocation ... necessarily belongs to the Pareto set... Thus, at any...

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Can A Nazi Be Rational?

Hilary Putnam has long argued that facts and values, or ends and means, cannot be neatly separated. In 1981 he proposed a thought experiment, I assume not to be of contemporary political relevance: What troubled us earlier was that we did not see how to argue that the hypothetical 'perfectly rational Nazi' had irrational ends. Perhaps the problem is this: that we identified too simply the question of the rationality of the Nazi (as someone who has a world view or views) with the...

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