From Freakonomics to Political Economy

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

In this response to the symposium on our two books we try to deal as fully as possible in the brief space available with most of the major issues raised by our distinguished commentators. Although at least three of them are in agreement with the main thrust of the arguments put forward in our books, they all raise important issues relating to methodology, the history of economic thought (including omissions), and a number of more specific issues. Our answer is based on the restatement of the chief purpose of our two books, describing the intellectual history of the evolution of economic science emphasising the role of the excision of the social and the historical from economic theorising in the transition from (classical) political economy to (neoclassical) economics, only for the two to be reunited through the vulgar form of economics imperialism following the monolithic dominance of neoclassical economics at the expense of pluralism after the Second World War. The importance of political economy for the future of economic science is vigorously argued for.

From Freakonomics to Political Economy

in Historical Materialism

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References

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  • 4.

    See Milonakis and Fine 2009pp. 9–10.

  • 5.

    McNally 2012pp. 10–11 King 2012 p. 40 and Fleetwood 2012 pp. 61–2.

  • 6.

    Backhouse 2012.

  • 7.

    Backhouse 2012p. 25.

  • 9.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009p. xiii contra King 2012 p. 39; see also Hodgson 2011 p. 358.

  • 10.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009pp. 1 2 4 9.

  • 11.

    Fine and Milonakis 2009p. 1.

  • 12.

    Backhouse 2012p. 24.

  • 13.

    King 2012pp. 40–1.

  • 14.

    King 2012p. 41.

  • 15.

    Backhouse 2012p. 29.

  • 16.

    King 2012p. 44.

  • 17.

    King 2012pp. 47–9. Callinicos 2011 in his review of our first book makes a similar point.

  • 18.

    See Fine and Milonakis 2009pp. 36–42 and below.

  • 19.

    See also Fine 2009.

  • 20.

    King 2012pp. 55–6.

  • 22.

    Backhouse 2012p. 34.

  • 24.

    See also Hodgson 2011p. 373.

  • 25.

    Fine and Milonakis 2009p. 154.

  • 26.

    Marx 1972p. 5.

  • 29.

    Fleetwood 2012p. 68.

  • 30.

    Hayek 19421943 and 1944 reprinted as Hayek 1952.

  • 31.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009p. 260.

  • 32.

    King 2012pp. 45–6 and Milonakis and Fine 2009 pp. 230–6.

  • 33.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009p. 230. Two missing commas indicated by ‘[]’ a slip on our part is the cause of the misunderstanding with King on Ricardo’s method. Thus the proper quote should be: ‘Indeed Ricardo’s deductivism[] and positivism[] are taken to the limit in mainstream economics as with Friedman’s (1953) instrumentalist methodology’ (Milonakis and Fine 2009 p. 69). As far as Ricardo’s method is concerned we have made our position abundantly clear on many occasions: we consider him as one of the first champions of pure deductivism.

  • 34.

    See above and Milonakis and Fine 2009p. 231.

  • 35.

    See Milonakis and Fine 2009pp. 234–5.

  • 36.

    Lawson 2003p. 145.

  • 37.

    Marx 1973p. 100. Analysis is opposed to what Marx calls synthesis which describes the opposite mental route going from abstract categories to more concrete ones which Marx (Marx 1973 p. 101) called ‘the scientifically correct method’. We hope this discussion answers the accusation that in our books we ‘give the impression that right lay on the side of the inductivists’ (Callinicos 2011 p. 268) and that the latter underplays the role of theory in economic analysis. We fully agree with the latter point and it was certainly not our intention to side with the inductivists but to show the need to transcend its distinction with deductivism in the ways suggested here.

  • 38.

    Fleetwood 2012pp. 72–5.

  • 39.

    King 2012p. 48.

  • 40.

    King 2012pp. 41–2.

  • 41.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009p. 93.

  • 42.

    Giddens 1986.

  • 43.

     Swingewood 2000.

  • 44.

    Milonakis and Fine 2009pp. 216–17.

  • 45.

    See Fine and Milonakis 2009pp. 88–9.

  • 46.

    Hodgson 2007.

  • 47.

    See the debate between Zelizer 1994 and 2000and Fine and Lapavitsas 2000.

  • 48.

    See Fine 20042006a and 2007 the last not least in debate with Fleetwood 2006. On critical realism and heterodox economics see Fine 2006b commenting on Lawson 2006.

  • 49.

    See Fine and Milonakis 2011.

  • 50.

    See also Fine and Milonakis 2011.

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