This is 's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following 's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Independent scholar, trained in Agricultural Science, working in the policy and planning of human services.
Interests: political economy, epistemology, science., classical liberalism
Recent Activity
We could use more short and funny books. BTW the early Austrians were interesting (funny?) in some ways.
Part of the problem is that we have been seriusly let down by the philosophy and especially the philosophy of science of the 20th century. You sometimes get the impression that some of the influences around the beginning of the century were more helpful than the revival of positivism/logical empiricism, the Wittgestein diversion and the degeneration of phenomenology driven by Heidegger. The worst aspect of the positivist philosophy of science was the banning of metaphysics, so the most powerful drivers of intellectual effort, the fundamental presuppositions of research programs, could not even be talked about in polite society. But don't worry, Karl Popper and Barry Smith have shed some light there. No I am not going to tell you about it here, you will have to wait and buy the book. It will be an e book priced at $9.99.
I think I'm with Roger as well, that is, confused about the tensions and inconsistencies in von Mises. Like the tension between the 'critical rationalism" we find on page 68 of Human Action where he talks about no certainty, just subjecting our ideas to criticism, and the apparent dogmatism of strong apriorism. And his idea that positivism/empiricism works just fine in the natural sciences. Presumably he followed his friend and colleague Weber in adopting a value-free attitude towards economics as a science (positive economics in modern parlance) and a personal commitment to values as a responisible citizen. However it seems that he struggled with the justification of moral positions, as indeed we all do, given that there is no way to achieve the kind of justification that we would like.
Did I answer your question about the purpose of attending those schools?
Don't know what you mean by extralegal, I suppose that is a slur. The aim is to provide whatever education the people want and need at that time and place. And to do better than the 'legal' systems which on OECD stats release almost 20% of students after ten or twelve years who are classified as functionally illiterate. That is pretty awesome too:)
Don't miss all the other great resources on the E G West Foundation site, continuing the work of the late Ed West on private education and classical liberalsm at large.
"woodenheaded laissez-faire" :)
Thanks Bill, I wanted to say that but I was too shy to put my hand up in class.
More seriously, looking at Steve's paper, the Austrian approach gells with a broad approach to the social and human sciences. There is a systemic tendency to integration rather than over-specialization and fragmentation. This comes through the analytical scheme of praxeology and also Popperian situational analysis and Parsonian action theory (1937). As sketched in this reading guide to The Poverty of Historicism. All three offered a framework for the study of economics and the other human sciences which could have: Maintained sociology and economics as an integrated discipline. Sponsored partnerships between economists and students of all social institutions – law, politics, literature, religion and cultural studies at large. Ensured that “high theory” and empirical studies informed, enriched and corrected each other. Contributed to good public policy, especially by monitoring the results of increased regulation and intervention in the marketplace by Big Government and the impact of the erosion of the “bourgeois virtues”. This work could have commenced when the role of government was much smaller and less entrenched. It didn't happen. Still, better late than never.
Toggle Commented Feb 27, 2012 on Teaching Austrian Economics at Coordination Problem
Because there is a fantastic cafeteria and very reasonable prices?
Toggle Commented Feb 27, 2012 on Teaching Austrian Economics at Coordination Problem
This book looks relevant, fairly hot off the press, found by accident (checking the Popper Web) Blurb. It’s often claimed that some people—fundamentalists or fanatics—are indeed sealed off from rational criticism. And every month new pop psychology books appear, describing the dumb ways ordinary people make decisions, as revealed by psychological experiments. The conclusion is that all or most people are fundamentally irrational. Ray Scott Percival sets out to demolish the whole notion of the closed mind and of human irrationality. There is a difference between making mistakes and being irrational. Though humans are prone to mistakes, they remain rational. In fact, making mistakes is a sign of rationality: a totally non-rational entity could not make a mistake. Rationality does not mean absence of error; it means the possibility of correcting error in the light of criticism. In this sense, all human beliefs are rational: they are all vulnerable to being abandoned when shown to be faulty.
Barry Smith is one of the authors of an excellent paper on the debilitated state of philosophy at present. One of the problems is detachment from problems outside philosophy, not looking out the window as Pete would say. Stanley Wong provided a paradigm case of how to do the philosophy of economics, he was smarter than most academics and he went off to become a senior partner in a law firm.
Yes. But the dominant schools of the 20th century practically shut down the kind of philosophical discussion that could help scientists. Hans Albert wrote a nice paper that described how the Continental (Husserl and the Austrians) and Analytical (Bertrand Russell) schools were looking good at the start of the century but Wittgenstein derailed one lot and Heidegger killed the other. Barry Smith is probably the best value at present among living philosophers (assuming he is still alive, he didn't reply to my email last month). Check out his stunning work on the Aristotelian metaphysics that Menger picked out of Austrian philosophy and used to launch Austrian economics. Actually it is interesting to see the overlap with the best of the non-living Austrian philosophers.
How about no 8: When you destroy both the moral AND the legal framework of a society for more than a generation (so nobody remembers what it was like before the revolution) you will really struggle to establish the rule of law, property rights, civil society and the market order. So the European satellite states rebounded quicker.
Hayek was very keen on pattern predictions.
Paris gets fed (one of Pete's favorite lines). Amidst the uncertainty and complexity there are underlying propensities or tendencies, the essences that Menger wanted to capture with exact laws, like the natural sciences. If we have a grip on some of these we can make "pattern predictions", if...then expectations that certain things will tend to happen. One of these tendencies is the rationality principle, that a lot of the time people will try to do the best they can in the situation as they see it. If you mean something different by the rationality principle, that is fine, just be clear because words like rationality carry too much baggage in the form of conflicting theories and connotations, often it helps to use different terms to minimise confusion. Someone wrote a book on Weber's use of the term and found about 12 different senses of rationality and reason.
A lot of conceptual confusion is swept away if you operate with critical rationalism and conjectural knowledge. And learning as quicly as possible from mistakes. However the philosophers are still obsessed with justified beliefs and so they add no value to issues that should be their bread and butter.
Check out Bowles and Gintis on "homo reciprocans". Ian Suttie, the great neo-Freudian revionary ("The Origins of Love and Hate" 1935) was onto altruism as a basic trait. Pity he died while his book was in press.
The game of cricket is a byword for good values, hence the saying "it's just not cricket (old chap)". Is it accidental that McCloskey became a huge cricket fan when he visited Oxford? On return to Chicago, after departmental shindigs, he would invite all comers to go back home for indoor cricket.
As Pete knows, sports and games provide good models for explaining some of these things. It is a shame that so much effort went into the mathematical analysis of two-person games instead of the game of cricket (without using maths). This piece dates from 1970 (coincidentally while the Australians were playing India, as they are doing this week) but I only got around to tidying it up recently. In this analysis the rules of the game stand in for all the institutional factors in a social context.
My comment on the original site has been in moderation for three days so it might as well run here (from memory since I can't read it myself). It contains a "neutral" point, some positives and a carping criticism. The neutral point is that it will really help to get over discussing political positions in terms of left and right. Hayek in his famous essay sketched a non-conservative or classical liberal position that cannot usefully be categorised as left or right. We get hit from both sides. I think if we allow ouselves to be tagged "rightwing" we have practically lost the debate before we start. My "non-left" friends have not been receptive to this argument but one of our colleagues at the Uni of Buckingham has made this point powerfully. Some positive comments - von Mises never objected to the use of mathematics, just the abuse, this is the rejoinder to people who like to say that Austrians "reject maths". People at George Mason have used mathematics, at least once for an interesting formal proof of something (can't recall what) and in regression models. Of course these are subject to use and abuse as well. Dani Rodrik has a nice paper on the limitations of regression models. See also Roger Koppl on big players. Finally the criticism. Pete commended von Mises on his rejection of the natural science approach to developing and testing theories and policies. I am not sure if this amounts to accepting the strong (justificationist) form of apriorism that Rothbard and Hoppe have taken from von Mises, or whether it just means recognizing that plans and intentions have to enter into theories in the human sciences in a way that they don't in the naural sciences. Taking up the issue of justification first. If the strong form is given up and we fall back to the fallibillistic apriorism of Barry Smith (which is identical to Popperism) then we can simply evaluate theories on their explanatory power, their truth, capacity to inspire effective policies, generate productive research programs, resist various forms of criticism etc. That means focussing on the strengths and weakness of rival theories instead of getting bogged down in debate over rival theories of epistemological justification (none of which work). Insisting on strong apriorism practically guarantees that other schools of thought will not take Austrian economics seriously. Moving on to the major difference between the natural and human sciences. It can be argued that the logic of the hypothetico-deductive method is not affected by the specific content of theories or the particular methods of investigation that are used in different fields. Sure, the contents of the theories are different, but the same applies to different disciplines in the natural sciences as well (and of course in the different fields of human sciences). I appreciate that there is supposed to be some special form of understandig that applies to human activities but natural scientists have to use the faculty of understanding as well and some would claim to be so involved in their subeject matter that they develop feelings of "empathy" or intuitive understanding of the behaviour of bosuns and black holes or the leaves of plants.
Mises, Hayek, Lavoie, is this conference being held in a retirement centre? What about the new kids on the block? You know, Buchanan, Coase, Tullock, Vernon Smith...
The eternal problem of the vote-buying motive as the Achilles heel of democracy, flagged by Hutt based on his studies of the rise of trade unions as a political force in the nineteenth century. The exasperating thing about the heterodox economists, judging from the Newsletter, is the way they share all the Austrian concerns about the defects of the mainstream while at the same time they are so not interested in the mainline (Austrian) solutions. A few years ago there was something about the Austrians in the newsletter but you could probably scan it for years without knowing the Austrians even exist.
A massive reading list, but what about a bit of Bauer, also Hutt on the rise of the trade union movement and the strike threat system (highly relevant to Australia at present) and Stanislav Andreski's books on Africa and South America.
Toggle Commented Jan 6, 2012 on A Course Worth Taking at Coordination Problem
I think Ben Powell and his colleagues found that the Somalis did better without a central government.