January 30, 2015

Looking for suitable alternatives

Comment Lars Syll on 'Marginalising Heterodoxy hampers good teaching in economics'


The Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE) writes: “What began as recognition of fundamental problems that require fundamental change is becoming a more modest set of alterations. A sense of failure is, for all intents and purposes, being translated into a context of relative success requiring more limited changes – though these are still being seen as significant.”

With the latest financial crisis, the argument that Orthodoxy is a failure gained wide popularity. It should not be forgotten, though, that most arguments against Orthodoxy are known at least since Veblen. The problem is that Heterodoxy has not come forward in the interim with a promising alternative.

“... we may say that ... the omnipresence of a certain point of view is not a sign of excellence or an indication that the truth or part of the truth has at last been found. It is, rather, the indication of a failure of reason to find suitable alternatives which might be used to transcend an accidental intermediate stage of our knowledge.” (Feyerabend, 2004, p. 72)

Things have not much improved lately.

The AHE writes: “As Perry Mehrling also states in the podcast, ‘This is a very unusual initiative from my point of view. It seems to be driven, actually, by wanting to make some intellectual change, and not knowing what kind of intellectual change we want to make’.”

Everybody knows that a Paradigm Shift is needed. But because Heterodoxy has no suitable alternative it cannot take place. Hence the plea for pluralism. The idea of pluralism, though, refers to the social and political sphere. In science things are different. There cannot be a pluralism of false theories. If Orthodoxy is false it has to be replaced.

Developing the scientifically valid replacement of Orthodoxy is the task of constructive Heterodoxy. For the first two contributions to a new curriculum see (2015b; 2015a).

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Feyerabend, P. K. (2004). Problems of Empiricism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2015a). Essentials of Constructive Heterodoxy: Say’s Law. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2556434: 1–10. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2015b). Essentials of Constructive Heterodoxy: The Market. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2547098: 1–10. URL