November 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Blog powered by Typepad

« Sir Ronald Trotter Passed Away at 82 | Main | Unions, Peaceful Picketing, And Coercion »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

If they were in my opinion "very smart", they would either agree with me or I would be convinced by their argument. If they can do neither, it'd be impossible for me to consider them "very smart" without diluting what the word smart means.

I generally do believe that my political opponents are "genuinely concerned with making the world a better place" though. I wish they would stop it. Those who commit the greatest evil always have the best of intentions.

Steve Horwitz and Peter Boettke!

TFG,

I don't think the word "smart" implies that an individual's conclusions have to be consistently correct. Nobody is perfectly correct at all times. And, even those who you generally disagree with will come up with points that are genuinely accurate.

Case in point, there were several points brought up by Keynes that Hayek agreed with, even if Hayek did not agree with Keynes generally. It would not have been fair for Hayek to call Keynes unintelligent, or not smart.

Indeed, in one of the opening pages of Choice in Currency Hayek writes,

"It was John Maynard Keynes, a man of great intellect but limited knowledge of economic theory..."

One can be smart, but misguided, for example. Or, to an Austrian, are economists like Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma or Bradford DeLong not smart?

"One can be smart, but misguided, for example. Or, to an Austrian, are economists like Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma or Bradford DeLong not smart?"

They may be "smart" but I don't see in them "great intellect" and I am unsure that they are "genuinely concerned with making the world a better place" -- I have a hard time judging their intentions (they look to me more interested in their own fame and prestige, as do some with whom I agree).

My favorite intelligent and well intentioned, living and dead, are on the far left and who, at least for their time, seem to be able to struggle with the real-world-evidence that undermines their theory.

Not living: e.g., Lenin, Bukharin
Living: many market socialists

Politicians that are genuinely concerned with making the world a better place exist?

liberty -

You really think Lenin was well-intentioned but have your doubts about Krugman and DeLong?

I'm of the school which says that Leftists are unprincipled as a _matter_ of principle.

See, for example, Hayek's essay "Principle or Expediency".

So, no, I don't grant leftists the conceit that they come from a place of good faith.

The burden of proof in this regard is on them ... and most self-evidently fail.

E.g. the recent defense of lying in the cause of the leftist religion by a top leftist blogger.

There is a massive history of the bad faith of leftists.

As I said.

The burden of proof is on every individual one of them.

Hayek famously disagreed with Greg's thesis. And folks have made the question into a Left/Right issue. There is a lot of political disagreement on the Right. Think about the differences among conservatives and libertarians over the wars (Afghanistan, Iraq and Drugs).

But on the Left I would pick out Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, and political commentator Juan Williams.

Good picks, Jerry. I'm disappointed you're not getting more ready replies, Steve. I sort of figure everyone is sincere even though I know they cannot all be so. Keynes is the obvious example for an Austrian economist. Robert Heilbroner is another great example. After the fall of the Soviet Union he came out -- in the New Yorker -- and said explicitly that Mises had been right all along. Leonard Rapping is another good example. He was an early ratex-er who was radicalized at an anti-war protest in the Vietnam era and stuck to his new found convictions firmly, notwithstanding the heavy professional price he paid.

In my work on forensic science I have met quite a few really good minds on the left fighting for improved justice. I know these people and they are not posers! The suggestion that somehow lefties are either dumb or dishonest is factually incorrect and rather less then generous-minded.

And all the while Hayek was being cut to pieces by Keynes and untold others -- a great many demonstrably coming from a place of bad faith.

Hayek respected Barbara Wootton and many of the leftists at the L.S.E.

But he hid his true opinion of many of them almost to the end of his life.

In old age Hayek spilled the beans on Laski -- the man was a pathological liar in Hayek's well considered opinion.

Who knows what Hayek truly thought of all these various intellectuals.

He chose to combat them from a position of extreme weakness from that position conceded to them almost everything .. in part because he had to as part of the price of admission to engage them.

And in conceding Keynes and others the conceit that they were being honest and coming from a place of good faith Hayek was crushed by his opponents who actually very often lacked that good faith. (Read what Pigou had to say about Keynes' treatment of Hayek some time.)

Hayek began to take the gloves off only in his late years, when he began to title papers things like "“Two Pages of Fiction: the Impossibility of Socialist Calculation”.

Well, I'll cut this short.

Hayek's logic of "why the worst get to the top" cannot be non-arbitrarily excluded from the domain of intellectuals and the very political world of academia.

It takes a dramatically fragmented psychology to be able to apply that logic to one domain but exclude it from another.

To be clear, the two posts above are in partial reply to Jerry above.

"Hayek famously disagreed with Greg's thesis."

"You really think Lenin was well-intentioned but have your doubts about Krugman and DeLong?"
- Daniel Kuehn

Ha! Well, that is a bit of a mangle of what I meant. Perhaps I did not state it well.

First, I do not think that Krugman and Delong have *bad* intentions. I simply do not know if they have true belief that their economic views are truly valid for the real world and will make it a better place (particularly Krugman). I wonder whether there isn't something related to fame/career that drives them on a utilitarian basis. This is not to say that they might (or Krugman might think) think their policies would be *bad* for the world, but simply that the desire to fix the world may not be driving them.

Looking back at the deceased and very famous from a historical perspective, we sometimes have enough information to make the call on that (although people still widely disagree). From my research I have concluded that Lenin truly believed in his policies and was trying to make the world a better place.

Obviously, I still think that Delong and Krugman are less dangerous than Lenin was -- because (a) Lenin was a politician not simply an academic, (b) Lenin was willing to go to great lengths to get his policies enacted, and (c) Lenin's policy prescriptions were much worse than even the worst of Krugman's.

What I'm saying is not so ridiculous if you just think of it as "true believer" versus "talking head."

A lot of talking heads come off sounding fairly moderate, reasonable, etc. and often people assume that moderate reasonable people are well intentioned--but then again, they may very well not have the greater social interest at heart. They're just "tools" of government/academia/business or whatever: just trying to make a living. Maybe they once believed, but now they are just on a career path--no longer a true believer.

I think Lenin was a true believer until his death.

A few quick responses:

@Daniel K: Thanks! :)

@Liberty: I think putting Lenin in that category is like driving a Porsche at 80mph down a dead-end alley. You're headed for a major smackdown. :)

@Greg: There's no question that some folks on the left (and right, and libertarians) operate from a place of bad faith. (See my comments below.) But your tone and your generalized dismissal of the left as universally acting in bad faith is just not consistent with my actual, lived experience. Aren't you the one telling us that economists need to do case studies and get dirty with the details of how markets actually work (or failed in the crisis)?

I've spent 20+ years in the liberal arts college trenches and I'm here to tell you that your argument lacks a basis in empirical reality.

@Jonathan: I think DeLong and Krugman are good examples of people NOT arguing in good faith. They might well be able to meet the challenge, but their consistent use of ad hominem against their opponents, their mutual refusal to entertain conflicting views in their comment sections, and their consistent mischaracterization of the views of others all add up to one thing: bad faith. I think both are extremely smart, but they are unable to see people who disagree with them as anything but stupid or evil (for the most part).

Trying to guess which politians are genuinely concerned with making the world a better place is like trying to guess which cup the ball is hidden under. While they no doubt exist, those concerned only with personal gain and power are often better at portraying themselves as disinterested benefactors of mankind than those who really are.

In any case, surely the important matter is that one takes opponents' ideas seriously. Whether such ideas are the product of a smart or well-intentioned mind is somewhat beside the point.

liberty,

Lenin well intentioned? He used the Cheka to shut down anti-Soviet newspapers, among other totalitarian acts.
As for Krugman and DeLong, the latter frequently calls for shutting down newspapers that print articles he thinks are "insane" or that he thinks "friends shouldn't let friends read."
Papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
I don't think Krugman has done this.
There's no doubt in my mind that DeLong is a would-be totalitarian.
I think Steve et al. should call him on this stuff when he says it. The bloggers at Marginal Revolution certain won't.

As Boettke, Coyne and Leeson describe in "High priests and lowly philosohers: the battle for the soul of economics", prestige and power are the root drivers of the high priests of social control. Deeper down, all the factors that Walter Block mentions in his "Socialist psychology: values and motivations. Things like resentment, envy, utopianism.

I sort of have a similar challenge I've been thinking of. What is the key insight that people - across ideologies - *have* to know concerning a specific topic, in order to take their (opposing) views seriously?

Let me give an example. When I talk to people about economics, I ask them wether or not they can explain to me the role prices have in an economy. If they can't conceive the notion of 'information', than it's really hard for me to take them seriously in their claim that they understand economics. I'm not saying this is thé benchmark I should use, but it's the one I'm currently using.

What is the insight that people 'have' to know - according to the people who read this comment - in order for them to talk sensibly about economics (or politics, or anything else that you can think of).

The (little) problem I have with my benchmark is that it's sort of motivated by my knowledge and acceptance of the (austrian) economic way of thinking. Maybe there is some other that I should use - that is more universally acknowledge across ideologies. What is the insight that Kruggman, Friedman, Hayek and Rothbard would share, that I can use to (sort of) test people wether they are worth debating on economics.

Feel free to make suggestions.

Steve,

Well then they should read my book and smack it down :) because that is from where the book is argued, and I sincerely believe that he was trying to bring a better world through those actions, even if those actions were totalitarian (something I also discuss in a paper which is currently in review).

Bill,

One can be well-intentioned and still believe in shutting down newspapers--if one truly believes that shutting down newspapers will bring a better world. You are working from a position that only individual freedom can bring a better world--but then you are assuming your conclusion. Of course you won't find well-intentioned statists if you define "well-intentioned" as non-statist.

Lode Cossaer, ask them to explain comparative advantage.

I'm coming to this a bit late, anyway...

Recently, on another forum I quoted Mises on a similar topic:

"Facts per se can neither prove nor disprove; everything depends upon the significance that can be given to the facts. So long as a theory is not thought out and worked up in an absolutely inadequate manner, then it is not a matter of supreme difficulty to expound it so as to explain the 'facts' - even if only superficially and in a way that can by no means satisfy truly intelligent criticism. It is not true, as the naive scientific doctrine of the empirico-realistic school has it, that one can save oneself the trouble of thinking if one will only allow the facts to speak. Facts do not speak; they need to be spoken about by a theory."

A person who is an intellectual is not necessarily intelligent, and an intelligent person isn't necessarily an intellectual.

The ability to understand counterfactual theorising requires some intelligence, but that doesn't guarantee that intelligent people understand counterfactual theories. In my experience in general clever people don't think that way because counterfactual theorising is a long-winded way of thinking. Most intelligent people are accustomed to out-competing their fellows quickly, and that makes them impatient and prone to error. People who are good at doing this right are those that have lived their lives among reasonably intelligent friends. They learn not to judge their own initial efforts too highly. I think the characteristic of a social scientist is not that he (or she) can think but that he can rethink.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

This discussion is confusing. Is it market vs. anti-market or right vs. left (not the same thing)? I respect smart and benevolent pro-market leftists (e.g. Burczak or Hodgson) or smart and benevolent pro-market rightists (e.g. Rothbard et al.). I also respect some smart and benevolent people - mostly on the left or politically neutral - who happen to be largely ignorant of economics(Obama or the Dalai Lama are two examples). But Krugman? NO!

Admission: I tend to have "left-wing" values but believe that "right-wing" policies are better to the extent that "right wing" and pro-market coincide. What does that make me? A pro-market centrist? Or perhaps a classical left-wing liberal (as the word "left" was interpreted 200 years ago).

Jon Elster is super-smart and a democratic socialist looking for genuine solutions and willing to discard what is not worthwhile.

Brad DeLong's writings and his obituary about Milton Friedman all show a very sharp mind able to penetrate the viewpoint of others and find what he agrees with, specifically why he prefers the social democratic solution, and why there are these differences of policy with Friedman.

Delong's "The Triumph of Monetarism?" in JEP 1997 is a good example.


Steve, of course I've known leftists who don't come from a place of utter "bad faith". It's not true that I said that leftists "universally" as group operate from a place of bad faith. I actually said the contrary, that this was not a universal generalization.

But we also might have different standards for what "good faith" entails.

And I sense we have a different understanding of the crooked timber of human beings and what goes on even in the academic fields which are most respectable -- James Watson spilled the beans in the field of biology, and I don't doubt that similar things take place in all fields. (For example, in my own field, I know philosophers who refuse to cite philosophers from a rival intellectual tradition. And have you kept up with what has been going on in climate science?)

Lacing things with the religion of politics and morality as happens out side of the hard sciences only spikes the water with something like EverClear.

In any case, looking at the treatment of Hayek by Samuelson, Keynes, Arrow, Galbraith is the thing I've focused on most closely, and the record is truly appalling.

Hayek knew he was being smeared and blackballed, and the whole experience deeply depressed the man.

But by the late 1970s and 1980s Hayek gave up on being depressed and came out swinging, demanding corrections from the libels of Samuelson -- and as for Keynes, Hayek became blunt, Hayek flat out said that Keynes knew little economics, he attempted to humiliate and destroy his lessors, and he scientific errors eat away at his capacity for being anything but an immoralist.

Steve wrote,

Maybe I'm focusing on the wrong members of the left. But its the major figures like Laski, Krugman and Keynes that interest me, and not so much all the average Joe and Jane's who populate the the thousands of colleges.

"@Greg: There's no question that some folks on the left (and right, and libertarians) operate from a place of bad faith .. But your tone and your generalized dismissal of the left as universally acting in bad faith is just not consistent with my actual, lived experience ...

I've spent 20+ years in the liberal arts college trenches and I'm here to tell you that your argument lacks a basis in empirical reality."

Steve Keen, Bill Black, Elizabeth Warren and Ken Rogoff are all people I respect deeply. I almost always agree with their interpretation of the past and present. It's just their solutions that I disagree with.

I can't speak to DeLong, but I have to agree with Horwitz's assessment of Krugman. I beileve that Krugman knows what the good is (from what I have read of him outside of his NYT pieces), but chooses against it (in his NYT pieces). One is good if one knows what the good is and acts on it; one is bad if one does not know what the good is, but acts anyway; and one is evil if one knows what the good is and acts against it.

In other words, Horwitz is proposing that those who have good faith believe in good and bad (and, from his comments, evil as well), while those who do not have good faith only believe in good and evil. I agree with this.

What would be an interesting list would be of those one considers good, bad, and evil.

Let me start:

Good:

the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers -- Smith, Hume, Hutchison, etc.

the Austrian economists -- Hayek, Mises, Boettke, Horwitz, Kitzner, Butos, etc.

Aristotle (mostly -- esp. considering what he could have known at the time), Nietzsche (if you know how to read him), Frederick Turner.

Bad:

Descartes and pretty much everyone in the Constructivist Rationalist tradition.

The Existentialists (except Heidegger in politics; and possibly Sartre in politics, though I believe he was blinded by his naivete).

The vast majority of socialists of all stripes prior to the rise of National Socialism and Communism (after the crimes of both and the consistently devastating economic outcome of the latter in particular, I find it hard to believe that any supporter of communism especially can be anything but evil).

Keynes and most interventionists.

Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Trotsky

Evil:

This is necessarily a much harder list, since you have to be able to know that the person knew what the good was and chose against it. It is not enough to point to the outcome of their beliefs. Nevertheless, I list:

Rousseau

Heidegger (in politics)

Hitler, Stalin, Hugo Chavez

Michael Moore (who is deftly able to create a lie by editing together two truths)

@David:

The Horwitz Challenge can apply to any set of beliefs. I hope that my friends on the left and my conservative friends would apply it to me!

"I tend to have "left-wing" values but believe that "right-wing" policies are better to the extent that "right wing" and pro-market coincide. What does that make me?"

A real and true liberal in the Smith-Hume tradition.

Sometimes this blog seems like a group therapy session.

Signed,

Your Competition.

The competition is just jealous. Next thing you know, they're going to file a complaint with the FTC for deceptive advertising practices and try to have us shut down.

Well, after the recent discussion about "Evolutionary Epistemology". Thinkmarkets can be certain that it's not a group therapy session, at least not the kind your thinking of.

Yes, on both the above.

I'm surprised that Hayek's "Fatal Conceit" didn't enter the discussion. He wrote that intelligence is highly overrated, especially by the intelligent. The most intelligent people on the planet have frequently held to stupid ideas. Arrogance makes intelligent people stupid. The beginning of wisdom is humility, which is why Hayek and Mises were equally intelligent and wise.

@Steve Horwitz, re:

"think DeLong and Krugman are good examples of people NOT arguing in good faith. They might well be able to meet the challenge, but their consistent use of ad hominem against their opponents, their mutual refusal to entertain conflicting views in their comment sections, and their consistent mischaracterization of the views of others all add up to one thing: bad faith."

Part of my wonders whether their demeanor (which is largely what this concern of yours amounts to) is at all related to the fact that they are regularly called fascists, socialists, or people without good intentions. It doesn't justify it in either direction, of course, and I've expressed my frustration with their demeanor in the past (especially DeLong's - Krugman I think is blunt but usually not offensive), but this seems like a pretty minor thing to me particularly because I imagine it's to a large extent a function of what they get called.


I don't know - I read things like Greg Ransom's comment above (of which I know there are many more examples and more prominent examples), and I read things like what DeLong writes sometimes and I honestly get the impression this is sort of a "chicken or the egg".

*"chicken or the egg" situation.


Wayne Anderson is always good for a laugh in this regard. You see these people complaining about each other, but then they go ahead and do precisely what they're complaining about in the other person. When you cut out all that griping and look at what they're actually saying I think Krugman and DeLong both are intelligent and clearly approaching questions with genuine and good intentions.

Joseph Raz, John Rawls, Jules Coleman, and G.A. Cohen.


Good question!

I always enjoyed Sidney Hook - an anti-communist socialist. After reading his autobiography I thought he would be an interesting person to have a conversation with.

I have given up on Krugman. I'll have to think of another contemporary figure.

Daniel Kuehn,

If you wish to defend the good intentions of D & K you need to deal with serious charges that they have misbehaved.

On Krugman:
http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2008/10/why-i-forecast-that-krugman-would-not.html

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2008/10/krugman-refuses-to-post-my-comment.html

On DeLong:
http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/weblog/2009/03/why-not-to-bother-with-brad-delong.html

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/08/correction-of-brad-delong.html

Plus DeLong has slammed Mario Rizzo as a "psychopath" because he, Mario, doesn't like current conventions about tipping cabs in NYC. Really, he did. I'm not kidding. Check it out:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/03/person-to-stay-far-far-away-from-1-oh-boy-mario-rizzo-sure-is-crazy-march-24-2010.html

Roger -
I thought I did address the charges. I'm pretty sure I called their behavior unjustifiable and frustrating, and in DeLong's case I said he was offensive.

On your Krugman links - I'm not familiar with the literature Barkley Rosser is making an issue of, but following the links these seem to be quite different from what Krugman was working with (that's just based on an abstract scan, of course). And some of it, as Rosser even admits, isn't even in the economics literature. I'm not sure what the point is. He could have had a few more things in a lit review? OK.

On DeLong - I'll reiterate I called him offensive, frustrating, and unjustified.


What I'm trying to do, Roger, is get us to differentiate between bad manners towards other individuals that we disagree with and bad intentions or goals.

I'd argue that DeLong is definitely guilty of the former, Krugman probably isn't but he's blunt, and neither of them are guilty of the latter.

If bad manners were tantamount to bad intentions the list of economics blogs I follow and post in would be considerably smaller.

Roger -
And also I think people are simply hyper-sensitive about a lot of this stuff when they should just be reading it as a little over the top.

So DeLong calls people psychopaths. Not good. Do we take that seriously. Don Boudreaux likes to call people thugs. Also not good. But many of the same people (not all of course, not you for example) that I hear complaining about DeLong and psychopath labels go on and on about how he and Krugman are fascists or Nazis or thugs or Communists.

So how do you expect me to react? To your charge, I would remind you I said I agreed that he was offensive. To the general charge I really don't see warrant in getting worked up about it. For every inappropriate post from DeLong there is a bibliography's worth of posts deconstructing it and with each of those posts an attendant string of comments about how DeLong is the scum of the Earth.

You really expect me to take any of that seriously, particularly the people crying crocodile tears over DeLong?

I won't. The guy has a big mouth and that's all it really boils down to. Take away his blog and he's fine, I'm sure. It's a bad manners thing, not a bad intentions thing.

I don't want to distract from the initial post. I thought it was a good challenge. I was actually a little surprise that Steve Horwitz mentioned Krugman and DeLong (I figured someone would, but not him), because I thought they were prime candidates for bright, good, well intentioned people that the heat of the debate often leads others to clash with in a war of words and acrimony.

That's the kind of realization I thought the Horowitz challenge was meant to foster, but apparently not.

> What I'm trying to do, Roger, is get us to
> differentiate between bad manners towards other
> individuals that we disagree with and bad intentions
> or goals.

We must also differentiate between those who argue in bad faith and those don't believe their own arguments.

In the case of Delong and Krugman I'm sure that they believe that what they are doing is right. They believe in their cause so much that they see no reason to show good manners to others. To them argument is a weapon against an enemy.

But, I think they sincerely believe in the ideas that they promote.

Current -

"They believe in their cause so much that they see no reason to show good manners to others."

See this all just seems silly and melodramatic to me.

I think DeLong read Rizzo and said "someone is actually writing about the theory and virtues of not tipping - what a psycho!". As a gut reaction, who cares? It was kind of my response. I disagreed with Rizzo. I enjoyed that post, but I disagreed with it and I thought it was a little nutty.

DeLong thought that too and he also isn't good at self-censoring.


I really think putting it in terms of "their cause" and "weapon against an enemy" and all this is far too melodramatic, which is largely my point. Sure DeLong can be rude. I don't think it amounts to much more than that.

It's a losing battle, though, I know. I can admit he's rude and offensive all I want and people will just keep raising rude and offensive things until I admit he is "at war" for "the cause" or whatever else.

I'm not buying it and I think, aside from the eccentricities, he's a great and important guy to follow.

And let me be clear I LIKE Mario Rizzo. He is brilliant, thoughtful guy. Don't throw that last comment back at me as if I've got some issue with Rizzo. I don't at all - whether I'm in agreement or disagreement with him (and more often than not its disagreement) I think he's a wonderful thinker and person.

Daniel,

I think there's some confusion here. The fact that I think both BD and PK are very bright guys and that they are doing what's best for the world is only a necessary but not sufficient condition to establish that *I* am arguing in good faith. To know if THEY are doing so, we need to know if THEY can pass the challenge.

The behavior that Roger has listed indicates, whatever the explanation, that they, generally but not in all cases, simply believe that people who disagree with them are idiots, psychopaths, "the stupidest man alive" etc.. I will not waste my time engaging people who believe that about those who disagree with them: that's CLEAR evidence of bad faith.

While I'm sure they could name two people on the "other side," the fact that they so frequently and overtly attack the people who disagree with them in the ways they do is a prima facie case for lack of good faith. No further Horwitz challenge is required.

It's not bad faith on my part to point to actual evidence of bad faith on their part.

I would characterize someone as having "bad goals" in an ideological/academic debate if they are intellectually dishonest, i.e., intentionally misstate an opponents position in order to appear to "win" an argument. Dworkin comes to mind (at least, according to Leiter), intentionally misstating the positivist position (notably, Hart's). I am not familiar with Delong and Krugman's scholarly work, so it is up to you all to make your own judgments (hopefully providing citations!). Also, I think it is tough to judge one's integrity vis-a-vis an opponent's position in the blog context. Many if not all bloggers take liberties in this area.

Steve, re: "I will not waste my time engaging people who believe that about those who disagree with them: that's CLEAR evidence of bad faith."

Oh I understand that's your point. My argument is simply that they may title posts more eccentrically than they actually feel.

"It's not bad faith on my part to point to actual evidence of bad faith on their part."

No, I don't think there was any bad faith on your part. I was surprised that you included them, and disagree with you - but I don't think there was bad faith in your assessment.


Hume: I think you have it exactly right when you write "I think it is tough to judge one's integrity vis-a-vis an opponent's position in the blog context. Many if not all bloggers take liberties in this area." This is really just my point. We might not like the liberties they take, and we should call it out as rude, but that's no reason to assume that they're arguing from bad faith.

Ultimately nobody can no what DeLong actually thinks - I can't and Horowitz can't. I have a suspicion that the medium he was using and his own eccentricities just amplified a very real and justifiable frustration with Horwitz's piece.

And I can sympathize with the frustration with that piece - I thought Steve got a lot wrong too, I had an extended exchange with him about it, and I even pointed to CBO and CEA sources where they dealt with precisely the crowding out problems he accused them of not dealing with. It was a frustrating piece. But that frustration I think is the source of DeLong's outbursts, not any real lack of good faith.

Ultimately this is all a little futile. We can't prove any of this and we're all entitled to take DeLong and Krugman how we will. There's no real way to arbitrate what those posts REALLY mean, and I imagine if I was on the receiving end I'd think much the same thing.

*Horwitz, not Horowitz in that middle paragraph :) Honest slip of the finger - I know that can be frustrating.

Put it this way - if he wasn't arguing in good faith I don't think he would have bothered to make as many actual substantive counter-arguments as he did.

People who argue in bad faith often (not always) don't waste much time actually working through what points they disagreee with the way DeLong did.

This conversation is nothing but an eternal pissing match for the frustrated. Anyway, I think fundamentalist said it best this entire post.

Krugman thinks exactly the same policy is bad if a Republican does it, and good if a Democrat does it. A perfect example of this is deficit spending. It was horrible, a sure path to economic devastation so long as Bush was onit; but it's an insignificant drop in the bucket and nothing to worry your pretty little heads about when Obama does it (he even goes so far, good Keynesian that he is, to say that if he must criticize Obama, it's that he didn't have large enough deficits).

Now, one can just blow this off as his just being partisan (which is a pretty disturbing blow-off in my opinion), but I will point out that not even Rush Limbaugh does this. He was consistently critical of the Bush administration and the Republicans whenever they acted like Democrats (which they often did). There is a difference between being ideologically consistent and partisan. Whenever you are partisan -- meaning you accept something your group does, but reject it when another group does it (hmmm, sounds akin to racism to me -- collectivism in its many forms, I suppose)) -- you cannot argue that the person is arguing in good faith.

I have also read Krugman's "The Self-Organizing Economy" -- so I know he knows better. He knows what is true and good, and he chooses to argue against those things.

FWIW, Daniel, I can't make out the consistent thread in your argument on this occasion as on so many others. Please don't clarify! Just a point of information that may say something about you or about me or both, I don't really know. Anyway, it may have been an error to dredge up the sins of D&K. We should probably just move on, as "The_Orlonater" seems to suggest.

Troy -

I agree with Roger on moving on, so I'm loathe to do this...

... but it's worth thinking WHY one might have had a different view on deficits in the early 2000s vs. the late 2000s. It's not really all that crazy if you just take a second to think about why Krugman wants deficits now.

The Self-Organizing Economy is very good. I've always thought there was a lot of room for Austrians and Krugman to agree on when it comes to questions of emergent order in markets. They come at it from different directions, but there's broad agreement (as well as potential for learning, since they do come at it from different directions).

"... but it's worth thinking WHY one might have had a different view on deficits in the early 2000s vs. the late 2000s. It's not really all that crazy if you just take a second to think about why Krugman wants deficits now."

Well, I guess we can then confine attention to Krugman's motives, as his level of understanding is not really in doubt.

When you are dealing with the combined nexus of morality, politics, economics and vision of how knoledge and society work -- all mixed in with prifessional status and advancement concerns, youmare dealing with effectively someone's personal religion and self image. A Mormon priest and a Catholic priest can each identify the other as people of "good will", but this isn' the sort of "good will" requiredntommake cognitive anvancce or change understandings

A Moremone

A m

A Mormon and a Catholic of "good will" are not going to give up the background priors and biased lifetime attachments -- human beings don't change into a different species when they enter the professoriate -- and I really do think deep moral and political and epistemological / social aciencen commitments are are deep emotional and unthought out things, sort o a substitute for tribal loyaltis and religions.

Closely related to the Horwitz challenge is the question "Is there any conceivable evidence that would change your mind?"

Daniel,

> See this all just seems silly and melodramatic to me.

I think you're right that this isn't a particularly interesting subject.

I tell you what, think about this in a couple of years time and I bet your opinion will have changed.

Rafe: Yes, one of my other favorites! This one is especially good in debates over global warming.

I still stand by my position on Krugman. Compare what he says about the Bush administration in its last 6 months and the Obama administration in its first 6 months, when they only difference in the situation was the administration.

I think he's a disgrace of a human being -- and because of that he's become a disgrace of an economist. It's one thing to be wrong; it's another thing to be partisan. No scientist qua scientist can be partisan. When they do, they case being a scientist.

"No scientist qua scientist can be partisan. When they do, they case being a scientist." I don't know if I agree with that, Troy. At least I don't really believe in the neutrality of individual scientists. Science advances funeral by funeral and all that. But perhaps you mean only to say that if a scientist is too much of a toady to power, he may lose the ability to good work. I would agree with that. You might do your best work as a toady to authority, but probably not.

Troy,

Up front, I am not a fan of Krugman, not at all. But he makes an argument for treating the two situations differently. He argues that the economic situations during the two relevant time periods were vastly different. In order to illustrate that Krugman is the partisan you say he is (and I tend to believe he is in many situations, at least in the blogging context), you must first engage his arguments. If not, you are guilty of the same partisan-style arguments I believe Krugman is (often) guilty of: either intentionally failing to recognize an opposing argument or intentionally distorting an opposition argument in order to appear (to the uncritical public) to "win" a theoretical debate.

Also, I think there are some issues regarding your arguments (1) Krugman as a person and (2) Krugman as an economist. Your first conclusion (C1) is that Krugman is a disgrace of a person. Your second conclusion (C2) is that Krugman is a disgrace of an economist. According to your argument, C2 is the result of C1. The problem I have with this argument is that C1 appears to be the result of this sentence: "It's one thing to be wrong; it's another thing to be partisan." But I think "being partisan" requires an additional premise: namely, one that indicates certain statements are knowingly wrong or intentionally misleading. If that is correct, than the fact that Krugman is a disgrace of a person actually relies on C2, not the other way around. And if that is the case, then there is no argument whatsoever for C2 (that is, that Krugman is a disgrace of an economist). Remember, your arguments relies on C1 to entail C2. So in order for you to show that Krugman is a disgrace of a person (i.e., a partisan, as per your definition), you must first show that he is a disgrace of an economist. This requires engaging Krugman's economic arguments, showing that they are wrong. In addition, in order to illustrate that he is a partisan, you must then show that his arguments are knowingly wrong or intentionally misleading. Once this is established, then C1 (Krugman is a disgrace of a person, i.e., a partisan) follows.

Roger,

That is what I meant. Thanks for clarifying me. :-)

Hume,

I said Krugman is partisan, not that he's sloppy. Of course he comes up with arguments to support his position. Does that mean that he is not in fact treating two identical periods differently? Of course not. Clumsy devils aren't the ones you have to look out for. It's the smooth-tongued ones you have to look out for.

As for the rest, regarding Krugman as a disgrace -- you are of course correct. I reversed cause and effect. Thank you. Krugman is of course first and foremost a disgrace of an economist -- which makes him a disgrace of a human being.

Professor Horwitz,

What does it mean "The next time you're engaged in a political discussion" and "the good faith such discussions should have"?

Again, I am not a fan of Paul Krugman. But it seems to me that much of the criticism here focuses on his blogging. To me, I do not think he is "engaged in a political discussion." Rather, I think he is engaged in "politics" or "acting politically." He is trying to change the world in which we live. These are the means through which he is illustrating his concern "with making the world a better place." So one may advocate policies in the name of enlarging the pie, knowing that such policies are inferior, with an actual desire of promoting equality (or "giving it to the rich," or whatever).

Perhaps this is a cynical view of "politics," for I do not believe those involved in "politics" are taking part in the "political discussion." In my view of the concept of "politics," there are no rules regarding the means by which the actors involved pursue whatever ends they pursue. One can make normative judgments regarding these means, and thus disagree with another's "politics," (as I do with Krugman), but I believe they are still engaging in "politics" nonetheless.

But this brings me to my ultimate point in the context of this discussion: if Krugman's blogging is considered his "politics" rather than an example of how he acts within a "political discussion," than much of the criticisms here are misguided. Moreoever, it would mean that Krugman himself would fall within your criteria (for me at least): I disagree with his politics, i.e., the means by which he tries to change the world (in addition to the ends he tries to bring about); I think he is "smart"; and I think he is genuinely concerned with making the world a better place (I think this is exactly what he is trying to do with his blogging, for I do not know the man personally, so I cannot say whether his NYT activities are simply a manifestation of ego-driven desires for fame and fortune).

If he cared about the good, he wouldn't care from whom it came -- Democrat or Republican, Austrian or Keynesian. Yet, he does care about the source.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Books