Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rationality and Ideology

Entering the economic debate as a philosopher, what appears obvious to me is the erroneous presumption (hidden assumption) that this appraoch to rationality entails. The assumption that there is a representative (universal) rational agent further assumes that there is only one universe of discourse operative and that all share the same worldview (in Wittgenstein's sense) that it describes and delimits through its norms. This worldview is a logical construct of "reality."

That is patently not the case as wide ideological disagreement shows. People, including economists who are supposedly "scientists," disagree not only over norms but also what the facts may be, because "facts" don't exist independently as "things" but rather are structured in terms of the manner of approach. Difference in worldview result in different ways of structuring facts in that the difference of worldviews are observable in terms of different rules and their application, for instance, criteria.

Although I think this is the beginning of the matter, I don't think that this is the end of the matter, in that there are a lot of other issues with "rationality," too. But this is one that I seldom see even brought up, even though it should be obvious that economics can be viewed as a struggle among competing ideologies and the worldviews they entail. If this were not the case, then a "scientific" resolution would be possible and there would be a Kuhnian normal paradigm in economics. But that is not the case as far as I can see as an observer.

Orthodox attempts to sustain the claim that it's paradigm is normal and everything else is "heterodox," but I don't see that case being made successfully at all, especially when heterodox economists predicted the crisis and orthodox economists not only did not but claim that it is not possible, failing to add, in the "normal' paradigm. That should call the "normal" paradigm into question, but they will not admit that. This is an indication of adherence to ideological norms over feedback for experience.

Note: I posted this a comment at Lars Syll's blog here, but it stands alone, too.

Lars responds:
I can’t but agree, Tom. Neoclassical economics has been tremendously successful in usurping words like “rational” and “effective”, loaded them with very special meanings and relying on people not wanting to be considered as “irrational” or “inefifcient” thinking the economics-meaning of the terms are he same as the common sense meaning. Amartya Sen has done a tremendous job on this.
Yes, a further criticism is that the economics debate in general presupposes capitalism and the assumptions of capitalism about what is "natural." This is taken as self-evident, other than in Marxism, Marxian economics, PROUT, and other non-capitalistic or post-capitalistic schools.

Interestingly, "Christian Economics" is a label that is also used by Religious-Right Libertarians. See Gary North, An Introduction to Christian Economics


Anonymous said...

Gary North is no libertarian. Instead, he believes in a government enforced precious metal standard:

"The government does have the right to establish the form of money that citizens must use to pay their taxes. The government should limit itself to a statement regarding the weight and fineness of the tax coins. If private enterprise produces coins that meet these standards, the government must accept such coins as valid for the payment of taxes. The government lawfully controls the form of taxation; but it should not have any power to monopolize the production of coins. Governments have always asserted this authority, and they have always done so to the detriment of liberty." Gary North from

Gary North would replace government counterfeiting of private money with private counterfeiting of government money!

Matt Franko said...

OMG Tom where did this North come from now....

"Governments have always asserted this authority, and they have always done so to the detriment of liberty."

Yes they HAVE asserted this authority! So what? The word "liberty" does NOT even appear in scripture, ie it is a "non-scriptural term"...

Paul to Timothy: "Have a pattern of sound words..."

Centurion: "For I also am a man set under authority..." The Lord: "With no one in Israel so much faith did I find..."

Pilate: "Are you not aware that I have authority to release you and have authority to crucify you?" The Lord: :"No authority have you against Me in anything, except it were given to you from above."

Where is the "liberty"? Where is human "liberty" revealed for the ecclesia in the Greek scriptures? Where is it?

"1 Let every soul be subject to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except under God. " Romans 13:1

Where does Paul go over "liberty" for us? Chapter and verse please? Where is Christian "liberty" defined in the scriptures?

What the hell is this guy talking about?????

"Lo! out came the sower to be sowing.
4 And, in his sowing, some, indeed, falls beside the road, and the flying creatures came and devoured it.
5 Yet other falls on rocky places, where it had not much earth, and immediately it shoots up, because it has no depth of earth.
6 Yet at the rising of the sun, it is scorched, and, because it has no root, it is withered.
7 Yet other falls on thorns, and the thorns come up and smother it.
8 Yet other falls on ideal earth and gave fruit, some, indeed, a hundred, yet some sixty, yet some thirtyfold.
9 Who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Mat 13:3-9

Where here is it indicated that the seed had "liberty" to choose into which condition it was sown? How has the seed "liberty"?

What a moron this North... "sown beside the road" he is...