Monday, January 07, 2008

On Arguments Not Of A Logical Type

"The critique of Robinson and Sraffa is more than forty years old. Yet for psychological and political reasons, rather than for logical and mathematical ones, the capital critique has not penetrated mainstream economics. It likely never will. Today only a handful of economists seem aware of it. Aggregate production function applications run rampart in studies of economic growth (new growth theory), development and convergence, and international trade (factor-price equalization and other applications of Heckscher-Ohlin). Ostensible liberals are not exempt; their arguments for higher public infrastructure investment (based on its alleged marginal productivity) are precisely of this type, as are arguments for increased investment in education based on the higher marginal productivity of human skill. To mainstream economics, Keynesianism has been reduced to a narrow doctrine relating sticky wages, public spending, and employment. The fact that there exists a Post Keynesian distribution theory, still less the reasons for it, has been mostly forgotton." -- James Galbraith, "The Distribution of Income". In A New Guide to Post Keynesian Economics, 2001.
"It should not be asked why the post-classical theory has been so determined in rejecting, or so astute in avoiding, the capital theory criticism raised against it; it should instead be asked why that criticism has been so ineffective to the point of being ultimately incapable of undermining currently dominant economic theory. Perhaps the question which should be asked is whether a purely logical critique could undermine a theory with so many ideological implications. That question – one that invites no small irony when asked about a tradition of economic theorising that prides itself on having excluded ethical values – surely deserves careful consideration." -- Guglielmo Chiodi and Leonardo Ditta (forthcoming)


Gabriel M. said...

It's very convenient for post-Keynesians to believe that mainstream-ers believe what's convenient.

Anonymous said...

So when Paul Samuelson admitted that Robinson and Sraffa were right, he was not really the leading exponent of mainstream neo-classical thought?

I suppose it is very convenient for neo-classicalists to believe what Samuelson believed has nothing to do with mainstream neo-classical economics...

Charles Stewart said...

I think "penetration of mainstream economics" is best understood by looking at what mainstream economists teach, rather than the list of topics addressed in their research publications.

So here's the question. Even an outsider like myself can be see that Samuelson has been influential in shaping undergraduate pedagogy. So is there anything of his "heterodox" ruminations to be seen in his undergraduate texts?

Anonymous said...

I read Steve Keen's Debunking Economics

In my opinion, he made some very interesting notions about neoclassic economics.

However, I tried to search for neoclassic scholars' responses to the critique Keen made, but couldn't find anything sensible.

Could you recommend some literature or reviews etc?


Robert Vienneau said...

I've listed some reviews of Keen's book.