The Spread of Economic Ideas by David C. Colander

By David C. Colander

This quantity incorporates a lively debate between eminent newshounds, economists, and publishers concerning the unfold of financial rules. The interchange one of the writers offers either the lay reader and the specialist with interesting insights into what occurs behind the curtain in academia, publishing, and journalism. the 1st sections of the booklet speak about the movement of principles from economist to economist and from economists to most of the people. The 3rd half examines the use and abuse of financial principles in coverage formation, and the ultimate part offers insights into the investment of principles and the incentives to make economics extra appropriate.

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In my view, Clower's critique of the profession is correct; the spread of economic ideas is seriously undermined by the educational institutions that have developed in the United States. Arguing that much of what economists do is irrelevant goes against what is currently in vogue in the philosophy of science; most scientists seem implicitly to believe that there exists an invisible hand which guides science to the truth. In this normal science view, scientists search after understanding by dividing up a set of questions, and trying to answer one small subset of those questions.

I'm not a philosopher. I'm an economist. I'm trying to understand particular things. If I find that a concept like "love" or "power" is fundamentally ambiguous - I may be wrong, by the way; it might be very simple - then I try to accept that fact. I don't pretend that it's not. On the methodological issue, I want to distinguish carefully between clarity of thought and precision of a model. I am not arguing that a precise model is the only, or even always the most useful, mode of thought. I am arguing that ambiguity and loose construction are never desirable characteristics in science, even in a weak science like economics.

To remain an academic economist one must get tenure. Getting tenure means getting published. Economists who follow the academic route must publish their ideas in the form of articles, preferably in the best journals. Books, for some reason, count for little in the academic economics profession; books that are readable by the lay public count for less than nothing and can be the cause of an otherwise qualified person not getting tenure. John Kenneth Galbraith, who stopped writing for the profession and began writing directly to the public relatively early in his career, has stated that if he were advising a young economist today, he would advise that economist to write highly mathematical articles and not follow the route he himself took.

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