Archive for February 7th, 2010

Via Mark Thoma, Maxine Udall argues that, “If economists were physicians, we would be sued for malpractice.”

Economics, mathematized and divorced from moral philosophy, was effectively neutered after WW II, at the point when its relevance to “serious economic argument” might have been established and developed. The outcome was perfectly aligned with market forces that would continue to shift the national narrative in ways that would finally succeed in convincing people that “government is the problem”…

Now add to this the promotion and tenure policies at even second rate economics departments that require and only reward publication in journals that favor morally vacant, mathematically rigorous, theoretically obtuse existence proofs that more often than not bear no relation to reality as we know it. One is then left with an economics literature that few people, including some who have majored in economics as undergrads, can truly understand, either in its content or in its relevance to the important moral and economic issues that confront us today…

Economics provided the theory and language that supported the drive to the ditch we find ourselves in. We did it by allowing economics to become divorced from moral philosophy. Now the economy is on life support and most people in this democracy can’t tell the “difference between cynical posturing and serious economic argument,” but they can and will vote. (emphasis mine)

And Notre Dame is demoting a handful of economists who have attempted to stand against this process. Reading Udall’s post also makes me wish more people who cite Adam Smith would read Gavin Kennedy’s blog first; at least then, they would have to confront their sin of falsely positivising (excuse the neologism) their discipline.

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