Alternative theoretical practice
If theoretical models assume uncertainty, however, and assume that agents have epistemic and ontological beliefs consistent with this state of affairs, the proper way to approach the course of economic phenomena should be very different. Particularly in place of mechanisms or economic regularities that keep running independently of agents’ expectations, the decisive role of lobbyists within open-ended processes based on expectations should be incorporated into the analysis. Such an alternative approach to economics could be based on the following set of assumptions which focuses on the lobbyist role of agents and the special kind of practical knowledge and skills they need. Choosing this approach means abandoning the pretense of scientific status desired by Lucas, which is obtainable at the price of assuming PTF. I suggest that the following assumptions could be the philosophical core of a new conceptual framework for economics: 1) There are economic processes based on expectations and characterized by radical uncertainty. Agents involved in such processes act in two different ways (as decision-makers or as lobbyists)
2) Ex-ante knowledge of invariant sequences of events is generally not possible (because there are few if any sequences of this kind); more importantly, such knowledge is unnecessary as support and justification for the implementation of economic policies.
3) The role of theoretical practice is to identify the many feasible “branches” of a “tree of plausible outcomes” as well as the restrictions that each sequence of events faces.
4) It is not known (and it is not possible to know) ex-ante what “branches” of the tree (what sequences of feasible alternative events) will prevail. Science cannot help us with this.
5) Other types of knowledge (common and practical knowledge as well as practical skills) are crucial for shaping those processes. It is a sort of know-how knowledge, closer to management and administration than to scientific economics.
6) Although – as was shown in point (3) – theoretical practice has an important role to play in shaping processes, what is crucial in this endeavor is another practice, which we denote as lobbyist (interventional) practice (LP). As mentioned above, LP is performed by a wide range of economic players (mostly different kinds of interest groups who are able to operate in the relevant context and on agents’ expectations).
A theoretical practice compatible with all these assumptions and that also incorporates uncertainty, new key players – as lobbyists – and new forms of rationality, knowledge and skills will be a huge contribution for an understanding of economic processes.