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And I do believe that Lavoie's work was of the utmost importance.
The "self-bootstrapping" sort of arguments for Austrian economics seem philosophically weak and unsophisticated. (ala Hoppe)

Yet intuitively, it seems pretty solid that people do attempt to transform their pattern of existence to one of less scarcity. We need to figure out how and why this is, and what it means.
Especially if we want to come up with the knockdown argument to convince the world at large.

Praxeology à la Mises is simply not a deductive science. The whole pseudo-mathematical or pseudo-logical jargon, with terms like "axiom", "theorem", "corollary", is just a way of capitalizing on the reader´s ignorance, on the reader´s inability to distinguish a truly deductive pattern of reasoning from one that is not. In this sense praxeology has an element of "fraud" in it. Praxeologists are indeed "great pretenders". Now there is a sincere attempt in praxeology to define the essence of a number of economic concepts. In that limited sense it has some affinity with phenomenology.

To Adem Kupi:
You say that the only arguments in economics that last a long time are either meta-arguments (whatever that may mean) or bad economics.
This is of course a very explicit recognition of the fact that the whole idea of Austrian economics as a deductive science from self-evident axioms is a myth (or a lie or a fraud).
What D. Heinrich presents as "rigorous deduction" is only a rather superficial systematization of things that have been written many times by others. Perhaps individuals who have never experienced what rigorous deductive reasoning amounts to will not see the point. For them, I withdraw my allegation of fraud. It is then only a case of philosophical incompetence pure and simple. I do not want to be misunderstood: within the field of economics Austrian economics may still belong to the best there is, only it´s not a thing of the same order or status as geometry, or math, or pure logic...


Ludwig's posts are simply vitriolic. Axiom does not necessarily mean mathematics, nor pseudo-math, and anyone even remotely familiar with Mises/Rothbard would agree. He hurls outrageous accusations. I've provided a sample of Rothbard's derivation of economics from fundamentals, but he has simply said that I ought to present the deductive argument in Aristotelean form. Presumably, he means some formalized format, which is pedantic nonsense. No mainstream journals do that, for sure. He ought to either provide a specific critique of Rothbard's derivation (e.g., he can explain how, somehow, it's possible that time-pref and diminishing marginal utility don't follow from the action axiom) or move on. I provided a clear deductive argument, and am not going play games formalizing it in IF-THEN statements.

Mises and Rothbard were not merely formalizing what others had said before; they, and their predecessors, discovered their understanding long before empirical economics, and completely independent of it. All of the great economists of the past -- Bastiat, Cantillon, Ricardo, Say, Molinari, Smith, Menger, Bawerk -- and even the great "empirical" economists (in their best moments, real contributions) -- Knight, Friedman, Stiglitz, Coase -- went about matters in this way. Certainly none of them presented formal logical proofs, which is completely unnecessary and pedantic. All that these formal proofs do is isolate the logical structure -- which is already there -- from the argument.

Formalized logic is a tool designed to precisely isolate the logical structure of arguments, and help us understand and think about them in that way from written English. It is not meant to be a form of expressing arguments in real discussions. That would be inane and greatly reduce readability (no-one would read hundreds of pages in that form). Ludwig's request cannot be taken seriously, and if he is being serious -- instead of just intellectually unethical -- then he is crazy.

PS: I would as someone with a BS in real natural sciences (molecular genetics, note that the mainstream economists claim to follow the scientific method is a fraud, and doesn't live up to the standards of the scientific method required in biology, chemistry, physics, etc.

The only thing you prove now is that you are unable to conduct a scientific or intellectual discussion in a decent manner; you are unable to handle criticism and you immediately move on to childish personal attacks instead...
It is Mises who writes, comparing very explicitly praxeology with geometry: "Aprioristic reasoning is purely conceptual and deductive. etc. etc."(Human Action p. 38) This is mere pretence. Mises confuses the systematization of knowledge with the deduction of knowledge. I am not saying there is no knowledge in Human Action, even wisdom perhaps, but Mises´s method is not deductive.


Prof. Boettke,

I don't see how the quality of writing and argument is any better in top mainstream econ journals than in QJAE/RAE, and I've cited a few top papers in financial econ as illustration. Perhaps you could explain why you think QJAE papers are of lower argumentative quality than those in QJE (and by that I mean the actual end-products, not the process).

But if so re QJE, perhaps they should call it the Quaterly Journal of Fictional Economics and Sophistry, lest anyone actually be confused by the quality of their writing and sophistic arguments that the journal is about economic truth.

Re Austrians being where they are because of methodology, are you saying you disagree w/ praxeology and agree with positivism? You don't think the state has incentive to create positive selection bias for statist economists, and negative selection bias against hard-core free-market economists? You don't think they have an interest in subsidizing a methodology under which anything is possible, because we have to try and see, and we can't rule out various policies?

Also, I remember one mainstream journal published Caplan's criticism of AE but wouldn't publish Block's rejoinder. The alleged reason was b/c Caplan's paper was "terrible" and shouldn't have been published anyway. But that doesn't justify not publishing a rejoinder (which was superior, or at least as good). It is simply a double-standard. If that's not bias, I don't know what is.

Ludwig,

Your comments have been for a long time indecent and outrageous (repeated allegations of fraud). I was merely noting this.

You, not Mises, are the one who is confusing things. Mises may have partly systematized prior economic theory, but he also explained the arguments behind it, and prior theory was also purely deductive or partly systematized from earlier still deductions.

In no case did Mises, or the theory he builds on, attempt to obtain economic theory via empirical methods. At most, we can say the significance of the subject matter, human action, is empirically determined by the prominence of man. We can quibble over the a priori vs. empirical nature of the action axiom's justification -- that it's denial is perf contradiction, w/c we know b/c of our interpretation of empirical observations, namely that its denial is an action; but that still wouldn't make subsequent reasoning somehow not a deductive chain, and wouldn't make the method empirical.

Saying that his claim to conceptuality and deduction is invalid ("fraudulent", "confused", "pretence") because of systemization of priorly deduced (not empirically derived) knowledge is false.

The vehemence of your reaction makes me believe I have touched a sensitive point.
When mathematicians, geometricians, logicians etc. contend that they have proven a proposition, they mean it in a literal sense. Now it is a tragedy that Mises adopted the rhetoric of these sciences (let me call it the "rhetoric of Euclideanism") in an attempt to sell a product that does not resemble the products of mathematicians, geometricians etc. One could defend Mises by saying that he intended his references to geometry etc. in a metaphorical sense. This is unfortunate, of course, since a metaphorical proof is not a proof.
This critique need not be disastrous for Mises, however; as I said already the ways of finding out truth about the world do not typically proceed in a deductive manner.
If there is no fraud, then at least there is some clumsiness, or some imprudence on the part of Mises, since clearly this defect - I can only see it as a defect - explains in part why his work was less well received than he deserved.

Is this David Henrich character a real person associated with the LVMI or someone pretending to be an idiot and claiming to be associated with the Mises Institute just to make the LVMI look bad?

If the latter, the spoof is funny as hell, but still in poor taste.

If the former, then Lord help the LVMI. I suspect a spoof though.

Ludwig,

My reaction was I believe an appropriate response to some serious & unsubstantiated allegations against Mises.

You have yet to show, nor will you, how Mises work wasn't deductive, but instead empirical *noting systemization doesn't show this either, for the reasons I provided.

I believe we can, at the very least, say that the more immediate implications of the action axiom & postulates are undoubtedly true, necessary consequences of such. Likewise for things like minimum wage above min market wage causing more employment than there would otherwise be.

David,

First, I consider myself pursuing a research program that represents a blend of Mises and Hayek --- leaning more toward Mises. Similar, in this regard, to Israel Kirzner.

Second, my point was that ideological positions are not what block Austrians. In fact, very radical free market ideas can be published in the top journals. The reason for this is that the Austrian methodology is rejected by many of the top journals. I think we just need to keep trying harder to crack in by writing better and higher quality articles. Truth will win out.

Third, on the quality of argument and writing --- I was discussing argumentative structure, and meeting an evidentiary burden. I was not assessing final conclusions. Remember I asked you to engage in a thought experiment about the Washington Post and the Washington Times, or the New York Times and the New York Post. I might agree more with the Washington Times, but I have to admit that the writing quality is higher in the Washington Post.

I think that one would be hard pressed to look at papers by Acemoglu, Shleifer, Besley, Levitt, List, and not be impressed by the quality of work. These are not sloppy thinkers, but brilliant thinkers. They write clearly and forcefully.

I am convinced (perhaps this a delusion, but I believe the evidence of the work of Rizzo, White, Selgin, Garrison, Leeson, etc. will bear me out) that if you write high quality arguments and meet evidentiary burdens, you can get into the top journals in economics. This is not an easy task, but I sincerely believe that senior scholars within the Austrian community should steer their journal colleagues and encourage their students to follow those examples. We should be striving to be in the AER, JPE, and QJE.

Please don't misunderstand me, I strongly believe that the QJAE and the RAE play very important roles in the intellectual life of Austrian school scholars and I also believe that the arguments in those journals can be of very high quality. But as a matter of facts, just do to numbers we have to admit that the probability of writing an article that will get published in the RAE or QJAE is much higher than the probability of getting in the AER, JPE, or QJE. This means that those submitting their articles to those outlets have to pass through a process that is more difficult than the one we subject the papers in the QJAE or RAE. That is a very basic point.

I think the discipline of economics is fascinating and that we should really encourage those entering the discipline (I am much less concerned with the lay audience) as a profession need to embrace the expectations of excellence in science --- even if we reject the mainstream methodology and the mainstream ideology.

Does any of this make sense to you?

David
I indeed believe that Mises´s true methods were empirically based. Just think about it. Do you believe that he could have written chapter XX of Human Action (about business cycles) just by drawing out the conceptual implications of the notion of action in an a priori manner, and without having carefully observed business cycles in the real world? This is really a fantastic claim!
A deductive argument is one in which the conclusion cannot be false if the premiss is true.
It is in general not sufficient, however, to state the premiss and the conclusion without also exlaining in detail how you get from the former to the latter. If you do this, what you will see in my opinion, is that the tools of mainstream microeconomics for instance are not that bad after all, that is, you will move in the direction of mainstream economics...

Ludwig,

Simply because Mises looked to the empirical world to determine what to explain doesn't mean his method was empiricist (your objection of "empirical" is a strawman). I also doubt that we'd have Pythagoras's theorum if men had never observed anything like triangles. Mises may have been inspired by certain things he observed (but even that needs interpretation). In short, even if his "aha!" moment wasn't arrived at via praxeological deduction -- the minds of genius' have great intuition -- that is how he went about explaining things, in his work, and that's also the basis of his claims to truth. He does not take leaps from premise to conclusion.

Nothing you've said makes empiricism/positivism any more viable. We cannot do controlled experiments in economics, thus claims to apply the scientific method in economics are invalid. Anyone who claims that mainstream economics properly uses the scientific method simply does not understand the scientific method, and ought to take courses in natural sciences if they want to understand it. What passes for "scientific" in QJE would be laughed out of Science or Nature, or any other natural sciences journal.

Furthermore, Hoppe has shown that positivism is not the method of natural sciences, and is not rational. This is because we don't throw out theories falsified by one counter-example if they are still useful in obtaining our ends (e.g., if there's something light as a wave still predicts better than light as a particle). It is only rational to throw out a theory if we have another theory or set of theories that explains and predicts everything of interest to us better than the discarded theory; otherwise, that theory is still of some usefulness.

as a follow-up on the previous post, Newton's equations, w/c can be used for calculating things relating to motion / speed / acceleration / distance, are still used even though we know Einstein's theory of gravity is always more accurate, because for the applications for which we use Newton, it wouldn't pay to take the extra resources to use Einstein's equations.

No two mathematicians disagree about wether a proof of Pythagoras´ theorem is really a proof or not. That is because in this case the conclusion follows from the premises with all the indubitable strength that characterizes a truly deductive logical argument. This means that it is inconceivable that the premises are true while the conclusion is false.
This is certainly not the case with respect to your alleged "deductions".
To the contrary, when you say for instance that division of labor and the market are inevitable logical consequences of diversity of resources, this is just not true. Division of resources is just only one condition for a market and division of labor. In other words division of resources makes a market and division of labor more plausible/probable. So apparently you do not distinguish between premisses that make their conclusions more plausible, and premises that entail their conclusions with all the strength of a truly logical deduction.
This does not mean that you have no point at all; it only means that you should not claim for the conclusions of your arguments the same certainty as the conclusions of deductions in mathematics or geometry.
I did not say that Mises was a positivist, or that he used positivist methods, only that his methods have a basis in empirical reality. By the way, if, as Hoppe maintains, praxeology has the status of synthetic a priori, my claim of empirical content is not contradicted by that.
Besides that, I am a great admirer of good old positivism, the writings of Hempel, Nagel, Reichenbach etc... all much better than Hayek and Popper, but that is a different topic...

As far as I know, Hoppe - and despite my appreciation for his work as a praxeologist - has shown nothing with respect to the methodology of the natural sciences. Falsificationism was introduced by Popper _against_ the positivists.
The (rather trivial) idea that we should not reject a theory except in case we have a better one was certainly not invented by Hoppe; it can be found in Lakatos, Laudan, and certainly also in the work of older philosophers...
One should be prudent with pronouncements about the positivists, especially when one has not read them; there is not only Carnap; and they are much more sophisticated than is today generally realized...

David
So if I understand you well you do not unambiguously agree with me that what Mises says about business cycles in chapter XX of Human Action could not possibly have been deduced as a conceptual implication of the notion of action?
I hope you are aware of the incredible philosophical naiveté of such a position. You confuse several claims, however. Thus I do not reject any claim to "conceptuality". However, the claim that praxeology is a deductive science starting from the self-evident action axiom is much stronger than that...
Anyway I suppose you will now agree with me that the practice which is common among certain praxeologists of putting their science on a par with geometry or mathematics is proof of either intellectual fraud or else philosophical imcompetence.

I agree with Dr Ludwig van den Hauwe on this point. The credulity with which some individuals accept the extraordinary claims of praxeology proves that if you write thick enough books, if you keep saying the same thing with the necessary arrogance and self-assurance, quite a substantial number of people will end up believing them and be impressed by them, even if they are absurd.

I agree too. It is particularly tragic that Mises made these extraordinary claims at the beginning of Human Action. Imagine the number of well-informed individuals who may have started reading Human Action, then almost immediately came across these claims, and then decided not to read further...

John, I would never accuse Mises of arrogance or anything of that kind, at most of a little bit of "mathematics envy"...

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