Saturday, June 20, 2009

litmus test

Pete Boettke discusses 21st Century Economic Methodology, where he is critical of the positive science approach to economics.

This seems to be an idea litmus test of Austrians - what do they actually believe, and what support do they have for it. I've taken the position of positive science - easy to do, since I really believe it - and I am attempting to get clarifications of just how Austrians break from this: this is the litmus test, where do Austrians stand? It appears that they are simply taking a reactionary and stylistically critical stance against positivism, but is this simply unclear communication and "they" have clear and productive (positive?) and informed methods other than positivism up their sleeves? To me all the useful and communicable (i.e. meaningful) fruits of Austrians are their positive efforts. Are Austrians lagging due to an unproductive fascination with metaphysics?

I look forward to understanding Austrians better - they are an interesting case study....

1 comment:

  1. Please note that my original paper was in the SAGE volume on the future of economics. The SAGE Foundation that is, which is a very mainstream scientific foundation in the social sciences.

    Now my point in my essay is that positivism and formalism captured the imagination of economists in the 1940s and 1950s and that the self-image so constructed has gone unchallenged since.

    There has been a evolution of methods --- from techniques of comparative statics, to linear programming, to refinements in statistical estimations, to game theory, computer simulations, experiemental design, natural experiments and instrumental variable techniques. There has also been on-going debates over applications, especially in public policy.

    But what there hasn't been is a rethinking of the self-image of economics as a science.

    So what does my argument imply? First, go back prior to Samuelson and Friedman and how did positive analysis get gone? Second, what sort of science was economics between Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall?

    I guess I'd like to see the sort of theoretical discourse that took place in Hume and Smith and then Say and Mill, up to Mises and Hayek. And the sort of empirical work that was found in economic historians such as Raymond DeRoover and up to Avner Greif and Douglass North.

    As I have argued, I like the sort of Analytic Narrative (Bates, et al, ed. book under that title) to political economy.