May 11, 2015

Science and travesty

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘Why the ergodic theorem is not applicable in economics’


You [Fred Zaman] say “Understanding the relationship of this effort to the mechanistic worldview of Newtonian physics, however, which permeates virtually all of science, is something that will be achieved only by those with an open mind on the subject, and have the interest to pursue it.”

Let us put some things straight.

When one compares the respective starting points — Newton and Smith — and the actual state of the fields then one is driven to the conclusion that in the course of time economics has fallen behind even further.

Neither orthodox nor heterodox economists have a clear idea of the fundamental economic concepts of income and profit. What is known for sure from the most elementary structural axiomatic analysis is that the conventional approaches are logically deficient (2014). Doing economics without a clear idea of income and profit is pointless. It is like doing physics without a clear idea of force and mass.

From past performance, Steve Keen has drawn the correct conclusion: “The position I now favor is that economics is a pre-science, rather like astronomy before Copernicus, Brahe, and Galileo. I still hold out hope of better behavior in the future, but given the travesties of logic and anti-empiricism that have been committed in its name, it would be an insult to the other sciences to give economics even a tentative membership of that field.” (Keen, 2011, p. 158), see also (2013)

Economists are simply not in the position to lecture Newton post festum on methodology: “According to one widely held viewpoint in the history of ideas, eighteenth-century thought was dominated by the concept of the "Newtonian world-machine." God had been assigned the role of master clockmaker who designed a universe so perfect that it could run indefinitely without any need for divine tinkering. Closer inspection of Newton's own writings shows that he was actually quite firmly opposed to this concept which had been popularized by earlier writers such as Robert Boyle.” (Brush, 1976, p. 605)

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Brush, S. G. (1976). Irreversibility and Indeterminism: Fourier to Heisenberg. Journal of the History of Ideas, 37(4): 603–630. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2013). Toolism! A Critique of EconoPhysics. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2257841: 1–13. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2014). The Three Fatal Mistakes of Yesterday Economics: Profit, I=S, Employment. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2489792: 1–13. URL
Keen, S. (2011). Debunking Economics. London, New York: Zed Books, rev. edition.