Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Methods versus Premisses

Syll says the University of Greenwich shows the way! He quotes Sara Gorgoni from the Rethinking Economics blog. But Syll omitted Gorgoni's opening:
The 24th of November was an important day for the economists at the University of Greenwich, when four programmes ... were successfully reviewed...

The revised programmes were commended for “the enthusiasm and development of new material by the teaching team, showing a flexible and responsive approach to the current environment, as well as taking a leading role in the sector”. That is, they were praised for leading changes in the way economics is taught.

They were praised for changing the way economics is taught.

Is that the key, do you think? Was that Maynard's focus in the General Theory? There's nothing wrong with what economists teach. It's just the way that they teach it.

I don't think so, no. It goes much deeper. As Gorgoni writes, "students themselves have recognised that the tools and theories they learn don’t enable them to make sense of the world they live in".

Maynard dealt with difficult questions of theory -- not how questions were asked, but what questions, and what was wrong with the answers. What was wrong, he said, was not the "superstructure" but the "premisses".

Change enough premisses, and the whole structure falls like Jenga.

Keynes wrote: "Moreover, the characteristics of the special case assumed by the classical theory happen not to be those of the economic society in which we actually live, with the result that its teaching is misleading and disastrous if we attempt to apply it to the facts of experience."

Sounds like what Gorgoni's students are saying.

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