Pomo Periscope XVIII: “The French Don’t Care What You Actually Say as Long as You Pronounce It Correctly”

9 May 2009 at 2:07 pm 1 comment

| Nicolai Foss |

This line from My Fair Lady seems to be an accurate summing-up of the emphasis on rhetorics, conversation etc., a branch of pomo, in certain quarters in economic methodology and related fields and disciplines. Or, so Robert Solow argues in a review in the latest issue of the always-interesting Journal of Economic Methodology of Arjo Klamer’s Speaking of Economics; How to Get Into the Conversation (here is a site dedicated to the book, and here is another review). 

Essentially, Solow criticizes those who engage in the conversation talk for not adding any substantive insights on the level of meta-theory (whether positive or normative). “I have real doubts,” he says about the utility of describing the practice of academic economics as a ‘conversation’ or a bunch of simultaneous conversations. . . . My claim is that it does not advance the serious understanding of what academic economists are up to, and its relation to what the economy is up to” (p. 94). He sums up by saying that “In the end, I did not find find the proposed connection between postmodernism and contemporary economics convincing. Maybe theories with little or no application, theories about chaos and complex systems, and theories that leave practical people clueless about the economy (those are all Klamer’s words) have something to do with the architecture of Frank Gehry or the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, but the connection needs work” (p. 95). It seems so.

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Pomo Periscope, Recommended Reading.

Remembering Hayek Professional Defenses

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. arjo klamer  |  3 February 2010 at 5:37 pm

    By considering economics as a conversation, or a bunch of conversation, it makes it easier to understand for example:
    -the gap between academic and everyday economics
    -what the institutional settings in which economists operate matter,
    -why there is so much miscommunication among economists and between economists, laywers, politicians, business leaders etc
    -why people in general, and also economists, do not picture the science of economics right.
    The link with modernism and postmodernism is meant to show that economists do not operate in intellectual isolation, but actually resonate similar values to those we encounter in other disciplines, in other conversations, that is.

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