TPM Book Club on Economics

by danjo

This seems just about right to me (emphasis in bold mine), Julie Nelson says:

Are heterodox ideas are making inroads into economics? I believe that the degree of change is severely limited by mainstream economists’ devotion to what they see as the methodological core. Pressing social issues and would-be innovative projects get radically diluted when they are viewed from this method-centric viewpoint. Ecological economics, which realizes the critical need for responses to problems such as climate change, meets mainstream prejudices and turns into “natural resource” economics where the future is discounted away. Economists taking a “behavioral” turn too often read a wide variety of interesting literature…and then try to cram some bits of it into utility function notation and econometric studies of MRI scans. Issues of gender and race get coded into dummy variables, and left at that, while issues of power are barely addressed at all. For economics to be useful, it should be problem-centric, using whatever tools work to address a phenomenon of concern. A few economists are willing to do this, even if it means breaking ranks. But such courage is far too rarely seen.

Amartya Sen (a mainstream but open-minded economist) wrote as a blurb for Beyond Economic Man: Feminist Theory and Economics (U. of Chicago Press, 1993), “The barbarians are surely at the gate. The only question is: Are the barbarians the ones outside the gate, or are we inside it?”