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« Tyler Cowen on Inequality and Mobility, and a Conversation with Jeff Sachs on The Future of Economic Development | Main | Economic Ethnography as a form of Analytic Narrative -- the empirical side of comparative political economy »


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And here's the problem with our current intellectual climate and civil discourse - you disagree with Sachs about everything, but still think he's a genius. Lol. Really, lo-frikkin'-l.

One could consider the billions wasted in Africa in his name - on programs we knew would fail ahead of time. One could consider his inability to react to the failure of his ideas and rethink his approach, but no, instead because he's got a perch at Harvard, he's supposed to be taken seriously.

No, Peter you cheapen yourself by deigning to treat Sachs seriously.

The wonderful Polish refugee Stanislav Andreski supplemented Peter Bauer's work with books on South America "Parasitism and Subversion" and Africa "The African Predicament", not to mention his little classic "Social Sciences as Sorcery".

On the way that methodology determines the way we frame our questions and evaluate the answers, that was a function that Popper assigned to the "metaphysical research program". Stanley Wong's critique of Samuelson's revealed preference theory is a paradigm case of advanced Popperian analysis.

Read the preface to the revised edition and weep for the institutional situation that drove Wong out of academic economics into the legal profession.

The influence of methodology and metaphysics in choosing and evaluating questions and answers is supplemented or complemented by the role of rhetoric as described by Deirdre McCloskey.

One more footnote: the work in the Bourgeois trilogy picks up a theme that Popper threw out in a paper that he delivered to the Mont Pelerin Society in Italy circa 1954. In "Public Opinion and Liberal Principles" he noted the overwhelming importance of what he called the "moral framework" of a society or a culture. Like the assumptions or presuppositions of research programs, the framework exerts decisive influence, especially when it is not brought out into the open so it can be subjected to critical appraisal with the hope of improvement.

That process could not happen under the rule of positivism which decreed that non-empirical propositions are just meaningless.

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