Monday, October 23, 2006

Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff

Do mainstream economists respond to critics of their theory with instrumentalism, whether such a response engages the criticism or not? Consider an review of Philip Mirowski's More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics:
Ideal versus real is the heart of this book

First off, the problem with this book is that people jump to conclusions too quickly. If I say that discrete math is not the same as continuous math, yet I go on to point out that the Z-Transform is analogous to the LaPlace Transform, there is an inherent ambiguity, a diaelectric, that seems contradictory but makes sense: all models are just that, models to reality. And reality cannot be modeled exactly (even the Theory of Relativity has flwas, which physicists are exploring today). In medice for example, Grey's Anatomy, a medical textbook, has been criticized for showing a 'perfect' anatomy that does not in fact exist in nature. Analogously, the old argument about which classical statute was 'better': classical Greek or Roman? Ideal or 'real'? (and if 'real', whose 'real'; the recent statute in Trafalger square showing a paraplegic pregnant woman comes to mind)?

The point being that classical economics is not perfect, nor is it flawed - it just is. Come up with a better model, and the economic world will beat a path to your doorstep.

BTW, I've not read this book. Please recommend this review if it's been helpful.

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