December 31, 2014

Pluralism and the thickness of confusion

Comment on 'Pluralism is not enough'


We agree that the neoclassical paradigm has to be replaced. Unfortunately there is no alternative paradigm. The minimum requirement of a paradigm is that it is logically consistent. A heap of critique, well-meant proposals, and incoherent theories is not a paradigm.

So, my point is that Heterodoxy does not satisfy scientific standards. You argue, as social scientists have argued before you, yes but then let us lower the standards. Blaug called this playing tennis with the net down.

This softening of standards started with Mill's characterization of economics as an inexact and separate science. There is no such thing. Either you conform to the criteria of material and formal consistency or you are out of science.

Therefore, the Einstein-Newton story is entirely misplaced. Economics does not resemble Newton's theory but Ptolemy's epicycle theory. Therefore, it cannot become the special case of a more general theory but has to go out of the window.

That “Truth is a hoary old myth that unfortunately is still widely believed” is a widely employed self-deception among social scientists.

Economists do not really want to get out of the 'thickness of confusion' (Suppes) because wish-wash and inconclusiveness helps passably against outright refutation. After all: “... you cannot prove a vague theory wrong.” (Feynman). This saves a lot of jobs.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke