Home > economic journals, Economic Thought, World Economics Association > Major new economics journal heavily downloaded in its first 24 hours

Major new economics journal heavily downloaded in its first 24 hours

Yesterday the first issue of Economic Thought was published by the World Economics Association.  Already within 24 hours the journal’s number of downloads, over 3,000, was beyond the dreams of many academic journal editors.  From the contents page below you may download the whole issue, individual papers and also abstracts.Economic Thought; History, Philosophy and Methodology; An open access journal from the World Economics Association

Volume 1, Number 1 (2012)

 Table of Contents

Editorial Introduction to the First Issue of Economic Thought Download PDF
John Latsis  
Mathematical Modelling and Ideology in the Economics Academy: competing explanations of the failings of the modern discipline? Download PDF
Tony Lawson  
Economics and Research Assessment Systems Download PDF
Donald Gillies  
Richard Cantillon’s Early Monetary Views? Download PDF
Richard van den Berg  
Different Approaches to the Financial Crisis Download PDF
Sheila C Dow  
On the Limits of Rational Choice Theory Download PDF
Geoffrey M. Hodgson  
An Evolutionary Efficiency Alternative to the Notion of Pareto Efficiency Download PDF
Irene van Staveren
  1. davetaylor1
    August 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Tony Lawson’s WEA paper compares inappropriate mathematical modelling with ideological explanations of the failings of the modern economic academy. To my mind the arguments are not comparable, because they are related as cause and effect: the inappropriate maths has become the means of obscuring the ideological nature of the current economic doctrines even from most of their teachers and practitioners. The way people are, there are likely to be only a tiny minority actively promoting the ideology.

    That leaves me agreeing with Tony’s assessment, if not necessarily the details of it. What disappointed me was the way he interpreted it in his conclusion, focussing attention on whether or not mathematics is necessary for science. As a scientist I would have said that depends on how you define mathematics. Tony defines the ideology as “in effect the cultural view that mathematics is essential to science”. He doesn’t define mathematics, or give any indication that he is talking about a particular TYPE of mathematics, but “in effect takes the widespread cultural view that mathematics is about quantitative calculations [and science about the quantification of measurements]”.

    But it isn’t. That was the non-scientist, non-mathematician Hume’s view of it in 1740, in the wake of Cartesian co-ordinate geometry and Newton’s mechanics, but it wasn’t true of ancient Euclidian geometry then, and it certainly isn’t true now. For example, Boolean algebra is about truth values, group theory is about relations between operations, and topology about geometry without even the constraints of quantifiable coordinates (c.f. the physical shape of an electric circuit with that of a circle, and invariants which – like these – are structural rather than quantitative: the point of structure being its direction of causal energies and force to the point where they become effective). Mathematics (math..tech) means literally “techniques of learning”, and knowledge of the construction and properties of different kinds of structure (e.g. atoms, genes) is at least as important as quantification in enabling scientists to recognise the significance of structures when they see them.

    As a scientist, then, I would have focussed not on the “non-necessity” of mathematics but on the “inappropriateness” of the type of quantitative mathematics now focussed on by economists. What mainstream economics has a-plenty are dubious measurements of immeasurables like value, and what it totally lacks are structural diagrams which enable one to see the economy and its logically distinct parts as a whole. Algebraic equations do not fill the bill, for circulation and limitation are not indicated by their form. Without being able to see and so discuss the meaning of what the economy does and does not do in terms of absent or inappropriate energy and information paths, there is not a lot we will be able to do improve matters.

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