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Daniil Gorbatenko
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Daniel, you seem to imply that mathematics is some kind of a language that allows to more simply state some ideas. But mathematics isn't a language, the particular notation is. Otherwise mathematical statements couldn't be expressed in words. I hate to go deep into philosophy but mathematics is a set of concepts with a certain structure of relations among them. As an Aristotelian, I believe that concepts are real. Concepts in this view may only be applied to objects that in some sense contain these concepts. For example, physical objects have length and other mathematical features. It is due to this fact that mathematical models can imperfectly describe the behavior of physical objects. Now, human decision-making processes and higher-order phenomena arising from them (like prices) do not have mathematical features. Thus, when economic modelers apply mathematical models to them, they, in contrast to physics, use mathematical concepts in their indirect sense, as metaphors. Now since a metaphor is not a concept it may not explain anything in the direct sense of the word, it may only sometimes help grasp the conceptual explanation. It is in this sense that math is superfluous in economics.
Daniel, the assumption probably is that the models do not add anything in terms of explanation to the verbal reasoning that is behind them and are thus superfluous.
Daniel, you wrote: =btw, Alex, the biggest public choice concern with libertarianism for me is not that it could never happen. I could see how it could potentially happen (you're seeing the beginning of that now). The problem for me is that it seems extremely vulnerable being co-opted by special interests - much more so than a constitutionally limited, liberal, but active state that consciously takes the public interest as its object. When we've hints of this co-optation in the Reagan revolution gone wrong, the Tea Party gone wrong, Rothbardians paling around with segregationists, etc. - all we get is a true Scotsman response. It wasn't REAL libertarianism in the first place.= I think you're making a very basic conflation here of libertarianism qua political movement and libertarianism qua potential ethical/politico-philosophical basis for the societal arrangement. From something done by adherents of libertarian ideas in the conditions of a clearly far-from-libertarian society nothing logically follows about how a libertarian society would fare compared to modern democracy.
Daniel, could you explain precisely how the government of say the US is strictly limited? For me it's sufficient just to recall what a surprise it was for an ovwerwhelming majority of the US constitutional lawyers to hear the US Supreme Court say that the federal government cannot force Americans to buy things. Even such a clear insult to the idea of limited government was rebuffed only by a happy accident.
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Jan 30, 2013