Home > Uncategorized > Heterodox economics needs to develop an agreed ontology and agreed modeling methods

Heterodox economics needs to develop an agreed ontology and agreed modeling methods

from Ikonoclast

The essential problem is that heterodox economics needs to develop an agreed ontology and agreed modeling methods, including broad agreements on the likely limits to modeling. Peter Radford has pointed out some of the ways (and reasons why) the economy cannot be modeled accurately in key respects.

Orthodox economics has an agreed framework. Orthodox economists mostly agree on their framework and they accept their implied economic ontology, without question or discussion for the most part. Of course, the problem is that their framework lacks an empirically supportable ontology and thus is itself entirely un-empirical. Orthodox economists can’t see it. Every scientist and philosopher of the sciences and social sciences can see it. But while political power supports false ontologies, they are sociopolitically unassailable until effective rebellion and/or until the structures and systems built on false ontologies collide with real system obstacles and limits.

Economics is not a science and it never will be a science in the hard sciences sense. I think it is better to state this up front and as often as necessary. Economics is a prescriptive discipline. The hard sciences are descriptive disciplines: meaning physics, chemistry, biology and the systems sciences which follow on from them like cosmology and ecology.

Economics, or more properly political economy, is a branch of moral philosophy. Traditionally, this was seen to be the case and value theory or “value philosophy” indicate that this is still the case. Speaking simply, there are two clear categories of values, namely the objective and the subjective. The only values with a claim to objectivity are those measured in the SI base units used by science, which are defined physically and objectively in real dimensions. Here we may take “objective” to mean physically real, dependably measurable and not influenced by human ideas, beliefs or subjective valuations.

We note immediately that economic values are influenced by human ideas, beliefs and subjective valuations in general. Ipso facto, we can reject any notion that an objective discipline can be raised up on that subjective basis. To repeat, conventional economics is a prescriptive discipline. It is based on axioms, not on fundamental laws of nature. It is an entirely axiomatic system. It has a base set of axioms from which one may logically derive its theorems. The “right to private property” is an example of a base axiom of conventional capitalist economics.

This axiom based nature of conventional economics is consistent with all human subjective value systems. This is precisely how all such social value systems operate. They set rules which humans must obey. From that point on, such systems generate “axiomatic” or rather automatic, outcomes IFF they are uniformly or generally obeyed by the actors (the human agents) and IFF behaving according to those rules would not violate any fundamental hard laws of the cosmos (what we would term scientific laws).

A given economic system, as a set of axioms and axiom-guaranteed outcomes (derivable as theorems), is operable socially and objectively provided the human agents are (mostly) obedient to the axioms and provided the fundamental laws of physical reality are not violated, immediately or eventually. This indicates that the axioms of (any) economic system should be subjected to two tests:

(a) Do the axioms break our moral philosophy values either up front or in the axiom-generated sequelae (downstream effects)?

(b) Do the axioms operate the system in such a way as to approach an asymptote where further operations of the axioms break, damage or destabilize fundamental, dependable systems of nature upon which we and the real economy depend (for example the benign Holocene climate)?

If the axioms do not meet either test, it is the axioms which must be abandoned, not our broader ethical values and not the life-sustaining environment which is critical to our survival. Economics must be remolded into a discipline which obeys ethics and the laws of nature. Its invalid circular logic character, whereby it forms its values according to its values, must be abandoned and the discipline re-subjected to (consequentialist) ethical values and to scientific values. Consequentialist ethics, in turn, can be argued to tend to the objective but that is another discussion. Deontologists and consequentialists tend to agree in any case, that we should not wreck the biosphere.

By taking the above ontological and empirical approach certain things become clear. Firstly, basic axioms of conventional economics are just that, namely axioms which are simply base rules created by humans. They are not inviolable laws of nature nor even of deontological law. There are no stone tablets handed down from on high (as opposed to paper based texts handed down by fallible human thinkers) which decree the immutability of the current economic axioms. When an axiom decrees something, it can be, and it should be, tested against empirical reality. In that spirit, how much private property (for example) is enough and how much is too much? Too much is when others don’t have enough AND when the natural environment can’t support it. Empirically, the answer is patently obvious.

With the base ontology correct, and working with the “axiom heap” and “empirical putcomes” heap clearly delineated from each other, we can tweak the axioms surely? Especially if it is a matter of existential survival.

  1. July 21, 2020 at 12:47 am

    It seems to me that the desire to create an ontology is a requirement of scholars who need “legitimacy” in a publish/perish environment. An interesting alternative is the Mont Pelerin Society which has a set of principles and a methodology, hence the creation of a variety of institutes that exist within academic institution. From the outset, “heterodox” economics has struggled, not with its ideas but its legitimacy within academic institutions. In the world of the Internet and large databases, ideas thrive in an increasing plural environment. Even within institutions, academics walk across “disciplines”. Kahneman’s Noble Memorial Prize in economics, as a “psychologist” speaks to this. Other examples abound.

  2. July 21, 2020 at 1:34 am

    Einstein didn’t wait for a committee of non-mainstream scientists to agree on an ontology. Perhaps, like me, he would not even have been sure what an ontology looks like. Anyway this comment belies the meaning of ‘heterodox’, which is intrinsically diverse and unlikely to agree on much.

    Broken record: go and see how real scientists work, then get on with working that way.

    • July 21, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      I completely agree with Geoff, just want to add that the orthodox and unorthodox economics are based on the same basic axioms. Both of them reshaped the deck in different ways, but they play with the same marked cards. Any morality, politics, or philosophy destroys science. Economics as science will begin where there will be no place for any morality, as in chemistry or physics, and ontology will have nothing to do with this.

  3. Craig
    July 21, 2020 at 5:16 am

    Here’s a good start on an ontology for economics:

    Systems were made for Man, not Man for systems, and policy must a priori respect and align with this ethic or it forfeits its legitimacy.

    Policy is the action of systems.

    Commercial and/or structural monopolies are problematic in economics.

    Paradigmatic-conceptual monopolies are the deepest, most unconscious and hence most problematic form of monopoly.

    The private for profit monopoly on both money creation and the monopolistic paradigm of Debt Only as the single form and vehicle for the distribution of money are the biggest and most important problems to be resolved in economics.

  4. Mr.T
    July 21, 2020 at 11:31 am

    I have great sympathy for your text. But I would like to add that we always use some unquestionable axioms & we are not always aware of them. In this respect, it would certainly be important first of all to draw attention to the implicit normativity and to work it out. Secondly, I don’t think we can simply talk about “our values”. This suggests a unanimity and unambiguity that often does not exist in reality. In this respect, I think that economics here must rather result in a process (!) of normative reflection which, where for pragmatic reasons no open discourse is possible, at least makes the “axioms” as such transparent. The latter is the first importent step: Economists have to think about the (implicit) normativity, make this transparent and to reveal the reasons for choosing the mentioned normative axioms as a base of theorizing and modelling.

  5. July 21, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t think that we can, or should, aim at ontological unity in economics. Ontology is a complex topic and there is a wide range of defensible positions. I am personally an empirical realist. I am prepared to defend that position wrt the Critical Realists and the Nominalists, explain why I think my approach is warranted and fruitful and to attempt to persuade others. But I don’t feel compelled to insist that everyone should adopt my ontology. I would agree that our analysis may implicitly incorporate ethical values and will have ethical implications, but one can still logically make a common sense distinction about how we might wish the world to be, and how the world actually is. If by “axiom” we simply mean an assumption that is more general than some other assumptions, it can be useful to try and specify and make explicit what is tacit. That helps with clear thinking. But I think we err if we try to turn economics into an “axiomatic system” at all. Political Economy as the term was used and understood by Smith and his contemporaries is an art. I think that Marx used the term in a somewhat different sense. The historical sociology of Smith’s associates, Marx’s historical materialism, Veblen’s social evolutionism, etc. were science. That’s not to say they were exact and precise sciences-quite the contrary. I agree with Daniel Hausman that economics is an inexact and imprecise science as are all the social sciences.

    • July 21, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      As Craig, Mr.T and Citizens Rat have beaten me to it, let me say I am broadly in agreement with Craig and Mr.T but suggest that if Citizen Rat is an empiricist seeking common sense distinctions he will have an epistemological view of ontology, i.e. though he may be familiar with what people have said about ontology he is not familiar with what it is. I agree with him on economics as art or very inexact science, but see my distinction between abstraction and generalisation: learned from library scientist S R Ranganathan’s “Colon Classification”.

    • July 21, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      I see Herbert has snook in too, and I would ask him to consider a bit less dogmatically why what he is assuming are science and morality are not actually what the non-scientist Hume claimed they were 280 years ago, long before electromagnetism was discovered. Hume discounted our sensing an external world by misrepresenting the significance of Newton’s “action at at distance” and ambivalence about light: “Particle or wave?” If morality doesn’t come into physics and chemistry, that is because when that was all there was, the human ability to use language to deceive itself had not yet evolved. When science is generalised to this, what is left out are life and language.

  6. July 21, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    I think that in order for this discussion to be fruitful we need to understand what we mean by “More Complexity” (as against “more complication”), basic/fundamental as against applied science, the ontological basis of fundamental science and ethics, and the axioms of applied science and political “morality”.

    Complexity is about distinct parts; complication [literally ‘tied’ together; apparently tangled] arises when the parts interact unsystematically.

    Fundamental science seeks to define axioms systematically by abstracting (retroducing) ALL the evidence, allowing evolution to be explained and axioms applicable at different stages of evolution (right up to the present) to be systematically inferred and tested. Empirical science since Locke and Hume has eschewed this for epistemology, choosing axioms by generalising (abstracting only from what we can see), so that today’s applied science is more or less arbitrarily related to its own particular contexts and interests.

    Ontology is thus about thinking back as far as we can go, which is what fundamental scientists do, but interests historians and applied scientists only insofar as advancing instrumentation enables them to see farther [back]. I’ve a story to tell about this.

    Kant’s ‘deontological’ or ‘duty’ ethics is the mirror image of the Biblical version, which is about not what to leave out but what not to do: “thou shalt not” and in Kant’s version “act always as if”. Hume’s ‘morality’ eschews advisory ethics for law, which nevertheless advises us to do what our masters tell us to.

    With this on the table, let me now react to Ikonclast, Tabales and Geoff, all of whom (and here Peter Radford) I am in sympathy with, but not entire agreement.

    Ikonoclast might do better to argue not that orthodox economics AGREE their framework, as that suggests they are conscious of it, rather than learning subconsciously to economise on truth [Occam’s razor] and ignore ethics [but not authority], as children learn to walk alone.

    Tabales, I suggest not only scholars but everyone needs “legitimacy”. In Newton’s and Einstein’s cases this was provided by an academic sponsor, but the legitimacy even of academia has now been bought by the money masters. I’ve another story to tell, about that.

    Geoff, I hope my explanation of ‘ontology’ helps, though as I read Einstein’s story, he needed a person to sponsor him before any committee would. In a business context, that is more or less the theme of my story for Tabales. As there are many applications of basic theories, it seems to follow that most heterodox economists are still thinking in terms of applications, and also (thinking of fundamental theory as ‘macro’ in the sense of applying to many things) the foundations of ‘micro’ (applied) theories will be ‘macro’.

    My two stories, then. On what interests scientists, in the last year of our broad engineering apprenticeship to fit us for experimental science, our group of 13 were required to study the philosophy of the English Empiricists. In the subsequent examination, my mark was 84, my room-mate and fellow Catholic’s was 45, and the next highest was 23. Believe you me, this was not because I was cleverer than the others, it was because they wanted to do what they saw scientists doing: using rather than proving maths and likewise not defining terminology.

    On what happens in the start-up business, my story comes from Nevil Shute’s autobiography, “Slide Rule”: that of a much travelled flyer become aircraft engineer turned business man who eventually became most famous as a socially sensitive writer. At the beginning of the 1930’s slump he found it much harder to get finance than good folk seeking employment. Chapter 7 is about how he and his friends spent their own and their employees’ money developing their skills making a glider, made a case for making aircraft by creating another company to need them, and found a kindly backer rich and sporting enough to gamble on helping them into production, so their sponsor could get it technically vetted and have something to show an investment agent. Here in 2020, who even are our friends, and who we recruiting?

    What I found fascinating were comments on the people involved: uncritical civil servants and government sponsorship of the airship R101 disaster (c.f. global warming); workers with nothing to lose and investors with enough to be able to gamble (where my own solution would be different); a major bank wanting an exorbitant fee just for proposing it as company banker. Chapter 8 goes on: “In organisations such as [a bank, insurance company or government department charged with development of industry], some one official has to take the responsibility on his own shoulders for hazarding other people’s money … but in his own interest [job security] he will always … invest in those which, in his view, present a reasonable prospect of security”. Hence the conservative design behind the R101 airship disaster.

  7. Ikonoclast
    July 22, 2020 at 3:56 am

    I thank the editor for posting this and I thank all who have commented to date. I will reply to all comments in one consolidated reply. This reply will take me up to another 24 hours to compose and post. I have other pressing project work occupying me today.

    I think the ontology debate is important to have, notwithstanding some opinions above, and I will lay out that case. It is also important to consider the general case of orthodoxies and heterodoxies and how they evolve. This would include how heterodox and loose groupings may substantially, if not completely or unanimously, coalesce around a new viewpoint in paradigm and/or ontology terms. If this coalesced group eventually “carries the day” intellectually and politically, then it can come to constitute a new (and hopefully objectively better and truer-to-reality) orthodoxy in its own right, representing a genuine advance in the field.

  8. July 26, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Economics is really urgent to synthesize or unify, not only for heterodox economics, but also for all other economics, whatever orthodox or unorthodox. This common framework is just Algorithm Framewwork Theory.

  9. Ken Zimmerman
    August 7, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    My view is that ontologies are the crutches academics use to cover up their use of ordinary analogies. Humans have used analogies for thousands of years. Current economists borrowed their main analogy from physics and other early western scientists. Initially, early western scientists set out an animistic analogy for nature, for the universe. Nature, like humans is sentient, has a brain, a heart, sensibilities; it can speak to and understand human wishes, feelings, desires, etc. This analogy scientists borrowed from astrologers, alchemists, and other pre-science belief systems (cultures). I call this the soft science analogy. It clearly allowed God to remain inside scientific thinking. Later, early scientists moved to a harder and more rigid analogy for nature and the universe. I prefer Kepler’s description of this analogy. “My goal is to show that the heavenly machine is not a kind of divine living being but similar to a clockwork insofar as almost all the manifold motions are taken care of by one single absolutely simple magnetic bodily force, as in a clockwork all motion is taken care of by a simple weight. And indeed I also show how this physical representation can be presented by calculation and geometrically.” (1959, p. 136)

    This mechanical analogy is a much different conception of the foundations of the physical world than the animistic analogy Kepler used elsewhere. In radical contrast with the Renaissance world, infused with soul, sentience, intelligence, and harmony, the mechanical philosophy took as central the image of the machine. This “clockwork” universe is the analogy adopted by Newton. And the one that underlies most of 20th century economics. Most physicists transitioned away from this analogy after the publication of Einstein’s Special and General Theory of Relativity (Albeit some more quickly than others). Most economists have thus far not made the transition.

    The mechanical analogy persisted in Physics, astronomy, etc. into the 18th century. And, in the social and behavioral sciences it continues in some sections today. The English natural philosopher Robert Boyle gave a concise and cogent account of this position in his essay “The Origin of Forms and Qualities according to the Corpuscular Philosophy” (1666). The mechanical analogy as presented by Boyle, replaced the explanation of the manifest properties of bodies in terms of the Aristotelian notions of form, matter, and privation, with a view in accordance with which those properties are “produced Mechanically, I mean by such Corporeall Agents, as do not appear, either to Work otherwise, then by vertue of the Motion, Size, Figure and Contrivance of their own Parts.” (The Works of Robert Boyle, Vol. 5, 302) Boyle explained this view in a number of basic theses: (1) “there is one Catholick or Universal Matter common to all Bodies, by which I mean a Substance Extended, divisible and impenetrable;” (2) “to discriminate the Catholick Matter into variety of Natural Bodies, it must have Motion in some or all its designable Parts;” (3) “Matter must be actually divided into Parts, . . . and each of the primitive Fragments . . . must have two Attributes, its own Magnitude . . . and its own Figure or Shape.” (Ibid, 302-307) In this way, the mechanical or corpuscular philosophy rejected the explanation of physical phenomena in terms of Aristotelian forms and qualities, the innate tendencies of substances to behave in particular ways. It also sought to eliminate all sensible qualities from objects themselves; the Aristotelian’s hot and cold, wet and dry, are eliminated as real qualities of things, as are sensible qualities such as color and taste. For the mechanical thinker, everything, be it terrestrial or celestial, natural motion or constrained, must be explained in terms of the size, shape, and motion of the parts that make it up, just as the behavior of a machine is explained. As Descartes summarized the program:

    Men who are experienced in dealing with machinery can take a particular machine whose function they know and, but looking at some of its parts, easily form a conjecture about the design of the other parts, which they cannot see. In the same way I have attempted to consider the observable effects and parts of natural bodies and track down the imperceptible causes and particles which produce them. (Descartes, Principia philosophiae. 1644, Vol. 4 203)

    In this way, the image of the macrocosm and the microcosm, central to chymical philosophies and Renaissance naturalism, found its way into mechanism after a fashion. For the mechanical thinker, as for the chymist and the Renaissance naturalist, what happens at one level reflects and is reflected by what happens at every other level.

    Another important feature of the mechanist foundations of nature was laws of nature. The idea of natural law in the sense of moral laws governing human behavior decreed by God was founded long before the early modern period. It seems to be a direct extension of the notion of a law in the ordinary political sense. But the idea that there are general laws that govern insentient and inanimate nature, mathematically formed regularities that govern all bodies, was a new feature of the mechanical philosophy of the 17th century. With the idea that there is one kind of matter in the whole of the universe came the idea that there is one set of laws that governs that matter. Although perhaps not the first to have such an idea, Descartes was responsible for its first appearance in print in a considered and foundational context. In his Principia philosophiae, Descartes announced “certain rules or laws of nature, which are the secondary and particular causes of the various motions we see in particular bodies.” (Vol. 2, 37) The laws of nature in question are three laws governing the motion of bodies, including two laws governing the persistence of motion and a law governing collision. Although his laws were much debated, and alternatives were proposed by Huygens, Leibniz, Newton, and others, after Descartes, the idea that the world is governed by precise mathematical laws seemed to become a central part of the mechanist foundations of the physical sciences. (J. R. Milton, “Laws of Nature,” 680-701)

    I hope this short overview allows you to see the direct link between the clockwork or machine analogy in early western science and economics today. Later, this analogy is set aside by physicists and other western science. Relativity helped with this development. But even more important in my view was the recognition that nature, the cosmos, the universe was emergent. And how it emerged was often not inevitable in terms of how it seemed to function prior to any emergent event. Regarding economics (as an example), economics is at work within economies in a way that is at odds with the widespread conception of science as an activity whose sole purpose is to observe and study. That is, to “know” the world. But knowing the world, accurately or not is not our first concern. That first concern is “producing” the world. Our concern is not (only) about economics being “right” or “wrong, but (also, and perhaps more important) about it being “able” or “‘unable” to transform the world. Economics swings between representation and action, between science and policy, between academic inquiry and political intervention, both as a discipline and in the careers of many economists. To many (both friends and critics) economics seems abstract, yet it also articulates with, influences, is deployed in, and restructures concrete economies in all their messy materiality and their complex sociality. How can we confront such a cumbersome object? I suggest we consider the notion of “performativity” for this job. The study of performativity began in the social studies of science and is now a standard approach to understanding how and why scientists (social, behavioral, and physical) create both the worlds they study and the study of those worlds. Performativity has a long pragmatist tradition (nurtured by the work of authors such as Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Charles W. Morris, and more recently John R. Searle) for which a central issue is the way in which actions, entities, and representations are intertwined. Performativity is not achieved by words alone. Even in the case of a simple utterance such as “I apologize,” the speaker can undermine the performative effect by adopting a sarcastic tone of voice or sneering facial expression. Then the words no longer constitute an apology. They do not bring into being that of which they apparently speak. More generally, the “conditions of felicity” that make an utterance successfully performativity are social as well as linguistic and bodily, as the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu points out (Bourdieu, 1991}. For examples of performativity work, see Ian Hacking (1983), Andrew Pickering (1995), and Barry Barnes (1983).

    • August 7, 2020 at 8:03 pm

      OK, we need to allow for Aristotle not having a telescope, but I thought the mechanical ontology was what we were trying to get away from? “Keynesian vs Newtonian Economics” and “all that jazz”? Incidentally, some people may be sarcastic when they apologise, but if your “performative” comment refers to my own recent exchange with Yoshinori, I had been trying to show respect for him by being friendly. Sadly, it takes two to tango.

  10. Yoshinori Shiozawa
    August 9, 2020 at 11:24 am

    It is not exact to claim that “Most physicists transitioned away from this analogy after the publication of Einstein’s Special and General Theory of Relativity.” (Ken Zimmerman on August 7, 2020 at 3:13 pm)

    Einstein’s universe is only different from Newton’s in the sense that Newton’s flat world (Euclidean geometry) was replaced by Riemannian geometry (or Einsteinian geometry, because metric used in his universe is a bit different from that of Bernhard Riemann’s), where straight lines in Euclidean geometry were replaced by geodesic lines. If you say Newton’s world mechanistic, Eistein’s world is as mechanistic as Newton’s. Einstein’s idea of space (or time-space) was really revolutionary at the first half of the 20th century. But it is a natural generalization when we are once accustomed to it. Euclidean space is a Riemannian space with a specific metric. That is all. Major change in the 20th century physics occurred not as paradigm change from Newton’s to Eistein’s but as that from Newtonian deterministic world (this is an aspect of mechanistic world) to probability-ruled world (Quantum Mechanics), although it still remain mechanistic in a wider sense of the word.

    The most important aspect of mechanistic view of the world is that it succeeded to escape from animistic world. Even for Kepler, this was not an easy attempt, as Ken put it:

    This mechanical analogy is a much different conception of the foundations of the physical world than the animistic analogy Kepler used elsewhere.

    Ken’s description of economics (not economies) is roughly correct:

    Economics swings between representation and action, between science and policy, between academic inquiry and political intervention, both as a discipline and in the careers of many economists. To many (both friends and critics) economics seems abstract, yet it also articulates with, influences, is deployed in, and restructures concrete economies in all their messy materiality and their complex sociality.

    How can we confront such a cumbersome object? The idea of performativity seems only a whim of an anthropolosist. If Ken insists it is not, give us a concrete example how performativity is usefully applied in guiding economics. It is instructive but only as one of hundred hints of similar kinds.

    I am not against pragmatics (or pragmaticism). One of my main ideas in constructing economcis is C-D transformation adopted from Charles S. Peirce and Charles W. Morris (See Subsection 3.3 Chapter 1 of our book)

    Bourdieu is a sociological analysis of people (and culture) conditioned by economic world (mainly the results of economic processes). Ian Hacking’s Representing and Intervening is still a philosophy of science (mainly natural science as its subtitle indicates it).

    Andrew Pickering’s The Mangle of Practice seems interesting (I didn’t know it). If “Pickering uses case studies to show how this picture of the open, changeable nature of science advances a richer understanding of scientific work both past and present” (from advertising message of the book), Ken should make case studies of economics to know and show how economics is open, changeable, and productive and also how it requires endurance, insight and logic.

    I have red Barry Barnes’s paper (1983) “Social Life as Bootstrapped Induction” Sociology 17(4): 524-545. It was a good paper, but for me it did not give me many instructions. I know almost all the topics dealt there: speech-act, self-fulfilling prophesy, pattern recognition, routines. Dichotomy between N and S terms is not bad, but I believe he is forgetting more important difference which exists among our knowledge (natural or social). Classical logic only treated truth-value of propositions. They compose a very large part of useful knowledge: natural science and mathematics. However, there is also a different kind of knowledge that cannot be treated as propositions, the value of which is true or false. It is what Gilbert Ryle called knowing-how. Its elementary form is a C-D transformation. C of C-D transformation stands for cognitive meaning. It depends on our ability of pattern recognition. Barnes talked about relations between how the meaning of terms (both N and S terms) is determined or assigned. However, to develop economics C is only a half of human behavior. Another part is D or directive meaning. This direction is not an instruction of a higher ranked person to lower ranked, but an instruction to the people them-selves. See the Subsection cited above. In Barnes there were a few comments in on this part. He may have been trapped by his idea of bootstrapped induction. However, if I add, C-D transformations are only parts that compose the economy as a whole, even if they are essential to it. In Section 3 of my Chapter, I talked about economic behaviors of human agents. In the next section (Section 4), I argued Environment of Economic Activities. The meaning of our behavior largely depends on the environment. In the case of economics, we must ask what happens in the economy. I have talked about interactions between “My World” (Objective World) and “Myself” (Inner World) (See Figure 1.2, Chapter 1). If we do not clarify this objective world , we do not really understand the economy. Barnes considers the situation from Myself viewpoint and confines himself in one’s world of imagination and never refers to the objective world. How can he really talk about self-fulfilling prophecy and usefulness of routines when neglecting the other half of the world.

    What we (my colleagues and I) have deployed in our book is short-hand description of the interrelations between Objective World and Inner World. To do this, we have to adopt various simplifications. Firms’ pricing and quantity adjustment are supposed to be a very simple patterned routines. These assumptions are adopted not only for the convenience of formal theorizing but also as a deep criticism of Arrow and Debreu’s general equilibrium theory. In Arrow and Debreu’s formulation, we have to assume that human agents have unlimited rationality and unlimited capability of information collection. We have rejected such unreality. The greatest merit of our book is that we have succeeded to explain how the economic system as big as world economy can work with above mentioned set of routines.

    Readers have the right to doubt what I claim here. Please read book reviews of two economists: Marc Lavoie and Yoshiro Inoue.

  11. Yoshinori Shiozawa
    August 10, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Although I believe what Ken Zimmerman stated on August 7, 2020 at 3:13 pm requires many small corrections, the first statement “ontologies are the crutches academics use to cover up their use of ordinary analogies” is extremely right. It is deeply unfortunate that this applies to many heterodox economist and methodologists who argue in favor of heterodox economics.

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