News

Loading...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mises and Wenzel vs. Gene and Bob

I'm not going to dig up the links, but Gene and I have been arguing with Robert W. about whether we can truly have "facts" about the world, which are themselves not dependent on our antecedent theories. In stressing the a priori nature of economics, Mises apparently sides with RW:

The application of spurious economic theorems results in undesired consequences. But these effects never have that undisputable [sic] power of conviction which the experimental facts in the field of the natural sciences provide. (emphasis original, Human Action, Scholar's Edition, p. 858)

44 comments:

  1. Mises lived in early-20th-century Vienna, so it's no surprise thaat his view of the physical sciences was that of the positivists. But that's no reason his followers should still think like that! When Mises first started doing philosophy of economics in the 20s and 30s, he turned to the cutting edge philosophy of science of the day to compare economics to the physical sciences. But that brand of positivism was dead by 1950!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gene,

    I have never seen it written anywhere before that Mises just went along thnking something because it was the trend of the day. Congratulations on your, ahem, breakthrough in understanding Mises.

    As for our discussion on fact versus theory, you left off with this comment:

    [RW]'You seem to want to label everything a "theory".'

    [GC]Robert, neither Bob nor I ever said there are no facts, only that facts depend on theories. "There is water on earth" is a fact, which depends on theories like, "When I see this water, I am not dreaming/hallucinating/being deceived by the Matrix, etc."

    [RW}]What is your definition of the word "fact"?"

    [GC]A fact is a conclusion of a theory.

    4:07 AM


    So you are saying, I presume, that a theory is not a fact, but somehow it turns into a fact?

    Does every theory "conclude" this way? Or just specially selected ones? And how can you tell which ones?

    Further, you may call this a theory:

    "When I see this water, I am not dreaming/hallucinating/being deceived by the Matrix, etc."


    I would classify this as an assumption, not a theory. I am assuming, this is not theorizing. I have no basis to determine the truth or falsity of such. Do you? They are assumptions before argument of theory and facts begins.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, Robert, when Mises commented on some chemical fact in HA, what he did was not accept the best opinion of chemist's of his day, but instead set up his own chemical lab and re-created the entire history of chemical research from scratch, all so he didn't have to "just go along thinking" water is H2O because "its the trend of the day."

    "So you are saying, I presume, that a theory is not a fact, but somehow it turns into a fact?"

    No, Robert, theories don't "turn into" facts; they yield facts. E.g., Newton's theory of gravity when applied to the earth-moon complex yields a fact like, perhaps, "The moon's orbit is stable."

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is really weird, guys. I read RW and thought he was right, and then I read Gene and went back to thinking we were right.

    Either this is a subtle issue, or am I have no willpower.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Somehow, I can't see a man who wrote Epistemological Problems of Economics and Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science didn't spend some time thinking about theories and facts. Versus an ancillary topic such as "some chemical fact in HA."

    Gene, Do you really think Mises did not think about the nature of theories and facts?

    No, Robert, theories don't "turn into" facts; they yield facts

    Facts exist outside the nature of man discovering them. If there is a snail under a rock somewhere on the coastline of the Atlantic ocean. It is a fact that there is a snail under that rock. There is no theory here at all that "yields" this fact. In fact, no human may ever become aware of the snail to spin a theory. The snail, however, is a fact.

    Newton's theory does not "yield" a fact, it yields another theory.

    Theories NEVER yield facts. This is absurd. You are saying that something not a fact, a theory, somehow produces a fact.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Gene, Do you really think Mises did not think about the nature of theories and facts?"

    Robert, you cannot accept a doctrine without thinking about it! What I said necessitates, rather than denies, that Mises thought about facts and theories.

    My point is that Mises thought about theories in economics a lot, but in philosophy of science less, quite understandably. Do you think it is a mere coincidence that he happened to adopt wholesale the view of physical science of the Vienna Circle, of which his brother was a member.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Robert, you cannot accept a doctrine without thinking about it!

    So are you now saying that Mises set up a lab "on some chemical fact in HA" and "set up his own chemical lab and re-created the entire history of chemical research from scratch, all so he didn't have to 'just go along thinking' about water"?

    Do you think it is a mere coincidence that he happened to adopt wholesale the view of physical science of the Vienna Circle, of which his brother was a member

    LOL. The fact that his brother was a member of the Vienna Circle would have gotten Mises juices flowing to find errors in their theories. To say that Mises and his brother had an intense sibling rivalry is no understatement. Mises did not even initially tell his brother that he got married. He further attacked his brother's statistical theories, in HA.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Robert, those were his brother's statistical theories he presented in HA.

    "So are you now saying that Mises set up a lab "on some chemical fact in HA" and "set up his own chemical lab and re-created the entire history of chemical research from scratch, all so he didn't have to 'just go along thinking' about water"?"

    Robert, this conversation is absolutely pointless, since whenever I say X, you fail to read what X says and instead respond, "Oh, so you're saying really, really stupid thing Y."

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sorry that was a slip, I meant empirical theories (not his statistical class versus case stuff). Or for more clarity maybe I should have written "the use of empirical methods in economics."

    Which is what the Vienna Circle, including his brother, were all about.They were a bunch of logical positivists, which Mises rejected.


    From there, I agree with you:

    this conversation is absolutely pointless

    You can keep on finding theories that "yield" facts, and I will coninue to look on in amazement.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Which is what the Vienna Circle, including his brother, were all about.They were a bunch of logical positivists, which Mises rejected."

    He rejected it for economics. He accepted it for the physical sciences, which is what this thread has been all about. You, too, accept a logical positivist view of the physical sciences, even if you don't know it.

    That was exusable in Mises day, as it was the most advanced theory of the time. It really isn't today.

    I'm going to give one last example of how a theory yields a fact. Take the Pythagorean theorem. Then I will posit that the two short sides of the triangle are 3 and 4. That, combined with the theory, yields the fact that the hypotenuse is 5. (And, of course, other theories -- such as non-Euclidean geometries -- yield other facts about the hypotenuse.)

    You will continue to be amazed about this assertion, Robert, because you are ignorant of modern philosophy of science, not because what I am saying isn't true.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Now you are jumping from the physical world to the world of logcal deductions.You are using a different sense of the word theory.

    That the hypotenuse is 5 is not a fact in the sense it exists anywhere in the real world. It is simply a logical deduction of the the Pythagorean theorem and as you put it:

    "the physical sciences...is what this thread has been all about."

    Gene, you are still sniping around the edges of my argument.

    Bottom line, if there is a snail under a rock off the coast of Maine, is that a fact or not, even if neither of us, or anyone else, has ever seen the snail?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ah this is great. I think you are both 95% right in your posts, but you keep missing each other.

    One clarification: I am not going to bother looking up exactly how, but I'm pretty sure that Mises at least slightly diverged from his brother's treatment of class/case probability in HA. At the very least, he took the distinction places where his brother didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "Bottom line, if there is a snail under a rock off the coast of Maine, is that a fact or not, even if neither of us, or anyone else, has ever seen the snail?"

    A fact to whom? If neither of us knows about it, it is not a fact to either of us! Maybe it's a fact of sorts to the snail. If you want to posit an omniscient God, then it certainly would be a fact to him -- probably even a theory-less fact, but that's the only sort of being who could have facts absent theory. But if you mean, absent all those things, it just is a fact but to no one in particular, I'd say your saying something meaningless -- for instance, how would I ever know of this fact that is a fact to no one?

    When I say all facts are theory laden, I mean for non-omniscient beings like us, who happen to be the only sort of beings I ever wind up discussing facts with. (If I ever stand before the throne of judgment, I certainly won't complain to the Good Lord that all of His facts about me are theory laden!)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, and Robert, I'll grant you a tautology as well: If you say to me, "Let's stipulate that there is a green rock at the north pole of Mars. Then is it a fact that there is a green rock on the north pole of Mars?" I'll reply "Of course, because that conclusion is contained in your premise. Saying "There is a green rock at the north pole of Mars" is not saying the least thing different from "It is a fact that there is a green rock at the north pole of Mars."

    But that's really pretty empty talk, isn't it, Robert? You're only really starting to say something when you say, "I contend that there is a green rock at the north pole of Mars!" Now, I ask you, "On what basis?" and you say "Well, my theory, which I am certain is true, is that Mars' geology demands..."

    And please, if we're going to talk, don't pull moves like you did with the Pythagorean theorem. Yes, I was making an analogy, which means that the cases are not alike in every way. If you want to argue an analogy, you have to dispute the main likeness the author was trying to display, not point out some peripheral dissimilarity. (The main likeness here was, "A math theorem can yield a number just like a theory can yield a fact without the theorem turning into a number or the theory turning into a fact.

    ReplyDelete
  15. By the way, in the early oughts, I worked for a math PhD who gave me his probability textbook, where I found a good third of the text dealt with R. von Mises. (And in reading which I discovered that the probability theory of HA was Richard's, at least the strong disallowal of case probability. As a logical positivist, what Richard contended was that probability had meaning only as the frequency of some result in a population. And my mapping is backed by Rothbard, who asserted that R. von Mises had "proved" the probability theory of Keynes wrong -- even though, I bet, Rothbard had never opened Keynes' book, and certainly hadn't kept up with the recent literature, which tends to favour Keynes as the long-term victor there.) I showed him my economics book, and noted that we were most likely (is this case probability?) the only programming department in the world were one member had published a book focusing intensely on Richard and another another book dealing extensively with Ludwig von Mises.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here's the ref:
    Keynes, the Man


    "We cannot get into the intricacies of probability theory here. [Meaning Rothbard can't because he doesn't know them!] Suffice it to say that Keynes’s a priori theory was demolished by Richard von Mises (1951) in his 1920s work, Probability,Statistics, and Truth. Mises demonstrated that the probability fraction can be meaningfully used only when it embodies an empirically derived law of entities which are homogeneous, random, and indefinitely
    repeatable. This means, of course, that probability theory can only be applied to events which, in human life, are confined to those like the lottery or the roulette wheel. (For a comparison of Keynes and Richard von Mises, see D.A. Gillies [1973: 1–34].)

    "Incidentally, Richard von Mises’s probability theory was adopted by his brother Ludwig, although they agreed on little else (L. von Mises [1949] 1966: 106–15)."

    And to what does Rothbard attribute Keynes's error here? To the fact he was a homo! (Really, click on the link above and read it for yourself.)

    This is Rothbardian "scholarship" at its typical level. Here's how you "research":

    1) I don't like X -- he was a socialist!
    2) Therefore, I must demolish every supposed accomplishment of X.
    3) Look for some Y that disputes one of X's accomplishments.
    4) Claim that Y "demolished" X's supposed accomplishment.
    5) Blame there error on some personal vice of X to further discredit him.

    Man, I couldn't have gotten my master's degree trying to pass off crap like that, and yet the Mises folks keep trying to claim "Oppression!" when asked to explain Rothbard's lacklustre academic career.

    ReplyDelete
  17. And to what does Rothbard attribute Keynes's error here? To the fact he was a homo! (Really, click on the link above and read it for yourself.)

    I tried but there was nothing there. Did the LvMI take it down after realizing the homophobia involved?

    ReplyDelete
  18. And Gene, surely Rothbard pointed out the objective (alleged) flaw in Keynes' analysis, and then attributed it to something about his personality. Your quote makes it sound as if Rothbard said, "Keynes was wrong on probability because he liked boys."

    If so, then what Rothbard did would be more analogous to your discussion of Ludwig von Mises' positivist views on the natural sciences. (When you "explained" them by reference to the times in which Mises lived.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Just to clarify, Gene, I am not saying you were engaging in the kind of smear of which you are alleging Rothbard engaged in. I'm just saying, the only real difference is that his was (I presume) mean spirited while yours wasn't. Other than that, there's really not that much of a difference. I'm sure Rothbard pointed to something that (he thought) was objectively wrong in the analysis, and then tried to give further insight into how such a smart man could have harbored a wrong view.

    Just like you pointed to something objectively wrong with Mises' views on the philosophy of (natural) science, and then offered an explanation as to how such a smart guy should have held what we now think is a naive view.

    ReplyDelete
  20. First Gene,

    Don't think I have gone away. After a long rest,and a long, long walk, I plan to respnd to your marathon of posted comments--maybe tomorrow, maybe Tuesday.

    Bob,

    That is terrible if LVMI took down the paper.

    I haven't yet had a chance to read it, but I skimmed it and it sounds an awful lot like a paper Rothbard delivered at Harvard at a Mises Institute event in the late 1980s on Keynes. I was there. The problem with the way the paper stands now is that it doesn't contain a preface Royhbard gave
    before delivering the paper.

    Now, you have to understand this was a weekend of Keynes bashing of his monetary theories, his fiscal beliefs etc. etc. TheywWere being demolished in paper after paper.

    Then Rothbard gets up and says something along the lines of:

    "Now, you can't attack a man's theories by attacking his personality. You can only use logic to show the weakness in someone's economic theories, but once you have shown the errors in a man's economic theories and you find the man has an ugly (He might have used "evil" or "terrible" instead of ugly but you get the picture)personality, then there is nothing wrong with attacking his personality and that's what I intend to do now."

    Everybody cheered.

    BTW: Anyone who hasn't seen the paper can google "Keynes the Man". It is available in the cache.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Further Gene,

    It would be completely out of character for Rothbard to do an ad hominem attack of Keynes in an attempt to knock down his theories.

    Rothbard never argued that way. He sometimes tried to explain the reasons behind why someone held a certain belief, but as far as I know he always attacked the theory itself when he was in demoltion mode.

    Do you have any other example where Rothbard supposedly employed an ad hominem attack?

    ReplyDelete
  22. RW,

    I think Gene means stuff like this: Rothbard might explain that John Stuart Mill went soft on libertarian purity in later years, and then explain it because JSM was a cold utilitarian, and not the more moral natural rights kinda guy. (And plus he married a socialist I think.)

    Or, Rothbard might show how Hayek was a sellout versus Mises on all kinds of issues, and then add that Hayek wanted to hang out with the intelligentsia etc.

    Gene, is this the kind of thing you mean?

    (BTW I am too lazy to go doublecheck, but I hope my JSM stuff is accurate. I am referring to Rothbard's discussion in the beginning of For a New Liberty, about the difference between natural law and utilitarian approaches to libertarianism.)

    ReplyDelete
  23. OK Gene, I googled that paper and read the relevant section. At first, it took me a few minutes to even realize what could possibly have motivated your accusation. Rothbard was talking about the a priori versus the frequentist theory, and I didn't see anything personal at all.

    Then I scrolled back and read the whole section to get the context, and Rothbard was quoting people such as Keynes himself and Bertrand Russell, to make the point that Keynes was for an interpretation of morality that didn't impose rules on himself.

    So yes we can read between the lines and say that "immorality" in this section meant playing hide the salami with the other bright young lads in his circle, but I didn't see anything remotely resembling your claim.

    Your treatment of Rothbard here is way worse than Rothbard's treatment of Keynes, at least in that section.

    Now granted, this is a fun blog, and that was a serious paper, but still, I think you are exaggerating in your description of Rothbard.

    Finally, I bet you Rothbard did indeed read the technical literature. I'm not saying he understood it, but I bet he read it. After NYU I went to Hillsdale and taught Rothbard's "Deconstruction of Utility Theory" essay, and I was amazed at how well he understood the axioms of expected utility theory. He was completely up-to-speed with cutting edge neoclassical theory circa mid-1950s (give or take some years, I'd have to go check the dates).

    He may have gotten lazier in old age, but he definitely read up on technical stuff. Same thing with chaos theory; I dove into it for about a month one time, and then reread an essay Rothbard did on it in one of his collections (not the Irrepressible, the other one) and it was clear Rothbard had read more in the area than I had. Doesn't mean he's going to publish papers in their journals, I'm just saying he read up on stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "And Gene, surely Rothbard pointed out the objective (alleged) flaw in Keynes' analysis..."

    Where? All I can see he said was, R. von Mises "demolished" it, which, as I noted, is not the case, so far as I can tell.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "I tried but there was nothing there. Did the LvMI take it down after realizing the homophobia involved?"

    I was being simplistic here, but the whole section where Rothbard connects Keynes's probability theory to his "immoralism" is what I meant -- I was hyperbolically summing that up as "he's a home."

    That may have been a bit unfair, but it is merely an overstatement, not a complete misstatement.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rothbard might explain that John Stuart Mill went soft on libertarian purity in later years, and then explain it because JSM was a cold utilitarian, and not the more moral natural rights kinda guy.

    Rothbrd does a lot of that in his History of Economic Thought books.

    This was just a different situation where Keynes was looked at from every angle, and Rothbard just decided the bash would be fun.

    I think Rothbard went easy on Hayek for strategic reasons given that Hayek was respected by mainstream economists and had received the Nobel Prize. It would have been hooting Austrian economcs in the foot (from Rothbard's perspective to rip Hayek) It would be interesting to know if there are any notes Rothbard has or preliminary writings about Hayek for his projected third volume of History of Economic thought.

    I have a theory that Austrian economists in their methodology of economics anicipated Chaos Theory, I discussed it with Rothbard once and got the sense that he was fully up on Chaos Theory.

    And Bob, given the incredible output of Rothbard, I don't think you can use the word "lazy" in the same sentence.

    At some point, Rothbard may have felt the opportunity cost of following some of the nonsense put out was a bit much, but I just don't see him failing to keep up on something important because he was lazy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dr Murray Tyson1:01 AM

    I was being simplistic here, but the whole section where Rothbard connects Keynes's probability theory to his "immoralism" is what I meant -- I was hyperbolically summing that up as "he's a home."

    That may have been a bit unfair, but it is merely an overstatement, not a complete misstatement.


    Paging Karen De Coster.

    ReplyDelete
  28. "So yes we can read between the lines and say that "immorality" in this section meant playing hide the salami with the other bright young lads in his circle, but I didn't see anything remotely resembling your claim."

    Yes, I've admitted to the sin of undue hyperbole here, but my eminently defensible point is this: Any connection between Keynes immoralism and his probaility theory is relevant to a biographer like Sidelsky, but utterly irrelevant to an intellectual evaluation of his theory. E.g., Kepler liked his ellipses because having the sun at on focus of a planetary obit's ellipse allowed the angelic intelligences guiding the orbit to orient around something concrete, whereas Ptolemy and Copernicus would have them steering around an empty point in space. That's an interesting biographical fact, but should play no part in deciding whether or not Kepler got this right.

    And I don't see Rothbard making that distinction.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Finally, I bet you Rothbard did indeed read the technical literature."

    If he did, then it is puzzling how could he have contended R. von Mises had "demolished" Keynes, since Keynes is generally seen to have been at least partially correct. As I said, my understanding of this issue was gleaned from reading my bosses textbook and conversations with him. While he greatly admired Mises, he told me that the consensus was that Keynes' Given that he done his PhD in the field and written an important textbook in it, I think it's highly unlikely he got this wrong. a priori probability is too important to neglect or write-off.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "Paging Karen De Coster."

    What is De Coster's probability theory.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Robert, after contemplating this discussion more, I think Bob is right, we've largely been talking past each other, and I blame myself. You've been talking metaphysics, and I've been talking epistemology. When Popper claimed "All facts are theory laden," he was not denying an objective world "out there" -- he clearly believed in one. His statement has nothing to do with idealism, realism, skepticism, etc. He was pointing out that when a scientist declares 'X is a fact,' that claim is always based on theories he holds. X may very well be, in some metaphysical sense, an 'absolute fact', but as humans we do not have access to absolute truth. Our own claims as to what is a 'fact' -- e.g., the Earth obviously stands still -- are always based on theories we hold.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Gene wrote:

    Yes, I've admitted to the sin of undue hyperbole here, but my eminently defensible point is this: Any connection between Keynes immoralism and his probaility theory is relevant to a biographer like Sidelsky, but utterly irrelevant to an intellectual evaluation of his theory.

    What is the title of this piece, Gene?! And why didn't you bring up Rothbard's discussion about Keynes' father? I mean, what does that have to do with probability theory?!

    Rothbard is writing a biographical sketch of Keynes. If you want to say it is bogus, OK that's fine, but why isn't he allowed to do that? He's not claiming it's otherwise. If you read Man Economy and State, I don't think you'll see any statement about, "Keynes wanted to boost AD because he had a demand for penis."

    Bob said: "Finally, I bet you Rothbard did indeed read the technical literature."

    Gene answered: If he did, then it is puzzling how could he have contended R. von Mises had "demolished" Keynes, since Keynes is generally seen to have been at least partially correct.

    Come on Gene, Rothbard would come up with unorthodox concluions all the freaking time! Most historians of economic thought think Wealth of Nations was incredibly important for our science, and that Smith was a great economist.

    In defiance of this consensus, Rothbard trashes Smith in his own history of thought. So are you going to say Rothbard hasn't read the Wealth of Nations, or the secondary literature?

    I'm not saying Rothbard is right--I haven't read the relevant mathematicians. But I bet Rothbard did, and came to different conclusions from the consensus.

    I bet if he were still alive, he wouldn't endorse the "consensus" climate change theories either, though he would have read a lot more on it than most skeptics.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Come on Gene, Rothbard would come up with unorthodox concluions all the freaking time!"

    Yes -- given he was not a scholar, but a rabid ideologue, it's no surprise that he did so!

    ReplyDelete
  34. "What is the title of this piece, Gene?!"

    Thanks for making my point, Bob. The whole piece is a smear job meant to discredit Keynes's ideas. You didn't ever see Rothbard writing, for instance, "Raimondo the Man," did you? No, because that was HIS man.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "Do you have any other example where Rothbard supposedly employed an ad hominem attack?"

    Hey you guys, keep drinking the Kool Aid!

    When Don Lavoie (who had been a favorite of Rothbard's) embraced hermeneutics (Rothbard was too besotted with himself, btw, to realize that HE was a hermeneutic social scientist!), Rothbard would say loudly at conferences that Don had "Sold out to the State," despite the fact that Lavoie was still an anarchist!

    Look at Rothbard's foolish charges of "plagiarism" against Adam Smith, when the term didn't have any meaning at the time Smith was writing.

    Robert, Rothbard habitually argued that way.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "Rothbard is writing a biographical sketch of Keynes."

    Bob, man, you're cracking me up! Since when was Rothbard a biographer? He's writing a biographical caricature of Keynes in order to give his cult followers more reason to dismiss Keynes's idea. And this is my exact complaint: Under the pretense of biography, Rothbard is trying to undermine an intellectual opponent.

    Bob, don't you think there's a reason why Israel Kirzner, a man we both know as gentle, humane, decent, and fair-minded, accused this crew of "intellectual terrorism"?

    ReplyDelete
  37. When Don Lavoie (who had been a favorite of Rothbard's) embraced hermeneutics...Rothbard would say loudly at conferences that Don had "Sold out to the State," despite the fact that Lavoie was still an anarchist!

    Well first, I don't recall Rothbard making this charge in any of his papers on hermeneutics. Which is where one might have an objection.I don't recall, because he didn't.

    However, thinking about Rothbard's charge, he does make the case, if I recall correctly, that hermeneutic societies are an ideal place for the rise of a Hitler or Stalin because they would be willing to step on all the open thinkers and take control. From this view Lavoie might have been an anarchist, but he certianly was creatng a great openning for the state and the next despot, in his promotion of hermeneutics.

    Rothbard was too besotted with himself, btw, to realize that HE was a hermeneutic social scientist!

    A couple of posts above, you charge that Rothbard is an ideologue. Which is it ideologue or hermeneutic? Or is he the first open-minded ideologue?

    Look at Rothbard's foolish charges of "plagiarism" against Adam Smith, when the term didn't have any meaning at the time Smith was writing.


    Ah Gene, the non-scholar Rothbard is apparently more up on the subject than you are he wrote in History of Economc Thought:

    "In 1769, the contentious Smith levied a plagiarism charge against Principal William Robertson, upon the occasion of the publication of the latter's History of the Reign of Charles V. It is not known what the topic of the literary theft was supposed to be, and it is difficult to guess, considering the remoteness from Smith's work of the theme of the Robertson book.

    The most famous plagiarism charge hurled by Smith was against his friend Adam Ferguson on the question of the division of labour."

    Looks like the term had meaning, a lot of meaning, during Smth's time, by Smith, himself!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Gene,

    You are being very sloppy on this thread. You are all over the place. You're like Don Rumsfeld vis-a-vis Iraq: First you make very specific charges against Rothbard--(1) he didn't read the statistical literature to know whether R von M ripped Keynes or not, (2) his objection against Keynes' probability theory was that Keynes' was a homo "seriously go click the link and see for yourself" and (3) Rothbard was using ad hominem attacks in a critique of Keynesian ideas.

    I have, in my mind, completely blown you up on each of these specific claims. You yourself backed off on (2), I am 95% sure I've got you on (1), and on (3), you seem to be taking the stand that Rothbard isn't allowed to make fun of someone's personal life.

    Your response to all of this is then to say, "C'mon Bob, the guy is a terrorist, stop nitpicking." Hence, my comparison of you to Don Rumsfeld vis-a-vis Iraq invasion. "We never said there were WMD! The guy is a jerk!"

    Now on to specifics:

    Bob said: "Come on Gene, Rothbard would come up with unorthodox concluions all the freaking time!"

    Gene answered: Yes -- given he was not a scholar, but a rabid ideologue, it's no surprise that he did so!

    You are being ridiculously slippery here. You said something like, "Given that the literature supports Keynes, Rothbard must not have read the literature." And so I was pointing to how Rothbard would disagree with the consensus in areas like history of economic thought, where he clearly had read the literature. So instead of you saying, "OK yeah, I misspoke," instead you turn it around so that I am somehow validating your original tantrum. Point, Rumsfeld.

    Bob said: "What is the title of this piece, Gene?!"

    Gene answered: Thanks for making my point, Bob. The whole piece is a smear job meant to discredit Keynes's ideas.

    No it isn't, Gene. It is meant to say not only was Keynes a bad economist, he was an a-hole too. You can object to someone writing such a piece, but don't be stunned that a biographical sketch refers to personal facts about the guy's life.

    How does "Keynes The Man" as a title, prove your (alleged) point that is really about "Keynes the Economist"? No, it's about Keynes the jerk. Just like Ebeling one time at Hillsdale College went through how much of a scumbag Marx apparently was.

    Somebody else asked: "Do you have any other example where Rothbard supposedly employed an ad hominem attack?"

    Gene said: Hey you guys, keep drinking the Kool Aid!

    Are you including me in the "you guys" here? I hope not, since I gave examples in this thread of what you had in mind regarding Rothbard's ad hominem attacks. Jeez Louise. You know how it's annoying as h*ll when Silas assumes any disagreement is due to your personal failings? Well being constantly accused of drinking Kool Aid just because I challenge the extreme outer limits of your sweeping criticisms is kind of annoying too.

    Bob said: "Rothbard is writing a biographical sketch of Keynes."

    Gene answered: Bob, man, you're cracking me up! Since when was Rothbard a biographer?

    Maybe the time he wrote "Keynes the Man"?

    Rothbard also wrote movie reviews too. How dare he! He doesn't have a PhD from Ebert University. Is he allowed to do that?

    Well I guess so, but only if he doesn't draw political implications in his reviews... Zoinks! Murray you terrorist! Stop writing movie reviews and tying it into your weird notion of liberty!!

    ====

    For the record: I agree that sometimes Rothbard would get carried away and make personal charges against the recipient of his scathing critiques. (Reminds me of someone...)

    The worst thing I ever "caught" Rothbard doing, was when he was ridiculing Hayek's fiat currency ideas. Rothbard said something like, "Mises favorite quote from Tooke was 'free trade in banking is free trade in swindling.'" And in context, Rothbard was saying Mises agreed with MR that Hayek was an idiot.

    But in fact, (a) Tooke didn't invent that quote, it was a wag whom Tooke quoted and (b) Mises likes the quote because of its ignorance of the checks in a free banking system. So Rothbard reversed the meaning of the quote and why Mises liked it, in order to further rip Hayek's idea.

    OK Gene, can you see I drink Crystal Light (because I believe in me) and not Kool Aid? I am not saying "Rothbard is an angel," I am saying that your criticisms are sloppy and you're saying things that aren't true.

    If you want to rip Rothbard, you should at least be accurate in what you say about him. I think the gentleman Kirzner would agree.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "However, thinking about Rothbard's charge, he does make the case, if I recall correctly, that hermeneutic societies are an ideal place for the rise of a Hitler or Stalin because they would be willing to step on all the open thinkers and take control."

    And what a stupid, stupid opint this was, because -- Rothbard himself was a hermeneutic social scientist, but was too ill-educated in the philosophy of social science to know this.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "You yourself backed off on (2), I am 95% sure I've got you on (1), and on (3), you seem to be taking the stand that Rothbard isn't allowed to make fun of someone's personal life."

    2) Yes, I went overboard there -- but not that far overboard.

    1) I will bet you he never read Keynes on probability, nor the ny but a smattering of the literature post R. von Mises. Why would he need to? Keynes was a socialist! Every idea he had MUST be wrong.

    3) This is NOT biography, Bob, Where is there a single bit of original research in the piece? (The key difference between real history and scissors-and-paste history.) Rothbard is simply setting out to smear an intellectual opponent, and using the work of real biographers to do so. If, as you say, Ebeling did the same -- well, so much the worse for him!

    Did Rothbard ever complain that Lavoie had done LSD when Lavoie was his chosen disciple? No way! But as soon as Lavoie started exploring hermeneutics and Rothbard "broke" with him -- what kid of jerks are always "breaking" with people, anyway? -- all of a sudden, all Lavoie's ideas could be explained by drug use.

    This is a vicious, Leninist tactic -- you do know about the memos from Rothabrd setting out a Leninist strategy for anarcho-capitalists, don't you? -- and I have heard tale after tale from libertarians who, once they strayed off the Rothbardian reservation, suddenly started hearing rumours about themselves circulating the libertarian circuit. Look, as soon as I went public with my criticisms -- and you know I had been voicing these to people in charge for years privately -- all of a sudden, I was a jobless loser who had failed out of multiple PhD programs! Geez, what a coincidence!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Ah Gene,

    Before I decide what ammuntion to use in my response, please clarify, are you saying my point is "stupid, stupid" or Rothbard's?

    ReplyDelete
  42. This is a vicious, Leninist tactic -- you do know about the memos from Rothabrd setting out a Leninist strategy for anarcho-capitalists, don't you? -- and I have heard tale after tale from libertarians who, once they strayed off the Rothbardian reservation, suddenly started hearing rumours about themselves circulating the libertarian circuit. Look, as soon as I went public with my criticisms -- and you know I had been voicing these to people in charge for years privately -- all of a sudden, I was a jobless loser who had failed out of multiple PhD programs! Geez, what a coincidence!

    Are you saying Rothbard has been reincarnated in Karen De Coster? Holy frick!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Welcome to wow gold our wow Gold and wow power leveling store. We wow gold are specilized, wow power leveling professional and reliable wow power leveling website for wow power leveling selling and wow gold service. By the World of Warcraft gold same token,we offer wow power leveling the best WoW service wow power leveling for our long-term and wow powerleveling loyal customers. wow powerleveling You will find wow powerleveling the benefits and value powerleveling we created powerleveling different from other sites. As to most people, power leveling they are unwilling to power leveling spend most of wow power leveling the time wow gold grinding money Rolex for mounts or rolex replica repair when replica rolex they can purchase Watches Rolex what they Rolex Watches are badly need. The Watch Rolex only way is to look Rolex Watch for the best place rs gold to buy cheap WOW gold. Yes! You find it here! Our WoW Gold supplying service has already accumulated a high reputation and credibility. We have plenty of Gold suppliers, which will guarantee our delivery instant. Actually, we have been getting Runescape Gold tons of postive feedbacks from our loyal RuneScape Money customers who really appreciate our service.

    ReplyDelete