August 14, 2015

How to stop idiot-breeding

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘Economics departments — breeding generation after generation of idiot savants’


“It may be distasteful for recently trained economists to admit that there is a lot of silly philosophy underlying ordinary neoclassical economics, but I think such is the case.” (Boland, 1992, p. 203)

Orthodoxy is based on the following set of premises: “HC1 economic agents have preferences over outcomes; HC2 agents individually optimize subject to constraints; HC3 agent choice is manifest in interrelated markets; HC4 agents have full relevant knowledge; HC5 observable outcomes are coordinated, and must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub, 1985, p. 147)

To recall, Arnsberger/Varoufakis have thoroughly debunked these orthodox hardcore propositions (2006). From this follows that Heterodoxy — in order to stop idiot-breeding once and for all — has now to move to an entirely new set of foundational propositions. Not one of the HC1 to HC5 propositions can any longer be defended or applied. Every paper or textbook that contains one of them goes straight into the wastepaper basket.

In order to build up the economics of the future, students first of all need a methodologically acceptable curriculum.#1 It is not helpful to replace silly orthodox philosophy with dumb heterodox philosophy.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Arnsperger, C., and Varoufakis, Y. (2006). What Is Neoclassical Economics? The Three Axioms Responsible for its Theoretical Oeuvre, Practical Irrelevance and, thus, Discursive Power. Paneconomicus, 1: 5–18.
Boland, L. A. (1992). The Principles of Economics. Some Lies my Teacher Told Me. London, New York: Routledge.
Weintraub, E. R. (1985). Joan Robinson’s Critique of Equilibrium: An Appraisal. American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, 75(2): 146–149. URL

#1 For details of the big picture see cross-references New Curriculum.

Related 'Potentially counter-productive'  and  'Secular intellectual stagnation'