Monday, June 29, 2015

Roger Farmer — The Economics of George Orwell

Without agreeing with Coyle and Farmer about keeping some version of an economics based on homo economicus, that is, methodological individualism, rationality and utility maximizing, rather than jumping into an unclear assumption of homo socialis, I agree that there is a danger of authoritarianism creeping in when individualism as foundational is abandoned. 

But as we have seen demonstrated abundantly, methodological individualism based on free choice and freedom from restraint can also be used to rationalize institutionalization of asymmetric power, which is authoritarianism under the guise of liberalism.

Individualism as foundational is unrealistic because humans are social, hence heavily influenced by social relations, structure and interdependence, including culture and institutional arrangements. 

But homo socialis is complex and needs to be approached carefully in order to avoid cognitive-affective bias, oversimplification, generalizing, etc. in arriving at an appropriate theory of human being to ground a sociological economics and political economy that is sufficiently realistic to yield more satisfactory results than the now dominant approach. 

For example, by focusing on too limited a sample, it is all to possible to fashion a theory based on Western civilization and culture that excludes the bulk of humanity in an age of emerging nations and increasing emergence in the complex adaptive system that constitutes the global village. 

I don't think that behavioral economics as it presently exists is necessarily the place to begin, and there are many reasons to suspect it is limited in this regard since it is coming from the same place. Economics needs to be set in a larger context.

Roger Farmer's Economic Window

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