Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shackled to philosophy

(All quotes from G. L. S. Shackle.)

Interestingly, Shackle, also, was a presentist: "Present thoughts and acts, so far as our consciousness can tell us, are all that is" (quoted on p. 11).

His critique of mainstream economics is worth examining in some detail.

Shackle wrote: "In sum... predicted man is less than human, predicting man is more than human. Man in his full humanity can neither be predicted nor predict" (quoted on p. 11).

And: "The standard economic theory of choice does not in fact permit genuine choice. The answer is uniquely predetermined, and choice is illusory" (p. 11).

The authors quote Kurt Klappholz, who notes that Shackle views "have attracted considerable attention from philosophers. Yet do not think it is unfair to say that Shackle's impact on economics has been limited..." (p. 12).

They go on to quote Shackle:

"History and philosophy, political theory, psychology of some sorts and economics all along in a single Great Theme. Economics is not pure logic but, quite in contrast with such a character, it is part of the endeavor to describe the integral nature of man." (p. 13)

So Shackle's interests lay in philosophical economics, which is all well and good. But there is no inherent conflict between scientific economics and philosophical economics: such conflict only arises if one or the other misunderstand its own calling.

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