Re-formation

  • Guy Routh

Abstract

Since 1975, when this book was first published, many other critical texts have appeared, some of them reporting conferences convened to seek remedies for the defects in our subject.1 Since the earliest days, there have been those who tried to convert economics into an empirical study, and those who denied the need. Piero V. Mini traces the divide to the conflict between Bacon and Descartes in the seventeenth century. It is with the descendants of Descartes, the dominant school, that we have to contend:

The seventeenth-century paternity of economics accounts for the major characteristics of that discpline: its tautological nature, its divorce from the empirical, its axiomatic quality, its atomism, its total neglect of what may be called the ‘realm of chance’, and its clear bias in favor of certainty and necessity (for mathematics can leave nothing to chance). Following the Cartesian method, economics was able to proceed through the social universe with lightning speed. But it also absorbed the weaknesses and contradictions of Cartesianism, the most important of which was its aspiration to explain the whole of reality without even looking at it.2

The tenacity with which the orthodox faction clings to its view is a monument to the obstinacy of the human mind. ‘Neo-classical economics reigns supreme, not because it refutes challenges to it, but because it ignores them.’3

Keywords

Defend 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Piero V. Mini, Philosophy and Economics (Gainesville: The University Presses of Florida, 1974), p. 59.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Dennis Mueller, ‘Reflections on the Invisible-Hand Theorem’, in Wiles and Routh, op. cit., p. 161.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), pp. 61–2.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    See in particular Peter Wiles and Guy Routh (eds), Economics in Disarray (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), and Robin M. Hogarth and Melvin W. Reder (eds), Rational Choice, the Contrast between Economics and Psychology (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    See E. Ronald Walker, From Economic Theory to Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1943), p. 48, for the origin of this useful term.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    J.R. Hicks, Causality in Economics (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979), p. xi.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Selected Writings (Stewart Edwards, ed.) (London: Macmillan, 1970), p. 150.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Guy Routh 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guy Routh

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