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« On Marking Up Books | Main | My Take On "Austro-Punkism" »

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Thank you very much for this very enlightening post. If this starts "another blogosphere war," then so be it! :o(

Christoph, armed & neutral at the foot of the Mont-Pèlerin

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

With friends like these, who needs enemas?

Well said Pete.

The rancor over hermeneutics always baffled me. You can argue its not fruitful to study, but equating all hermeneutics with some sort of relativism or nihilism is like equating all epistemology with rationalism. It confuses a field of study for a substantive position.

To paraphrase Pete: you can't not have a hermeneutic position, you can only have an implicit and undefended position or an explicit and defended one. As Pete points out, there are a range of actual hermeneutic theories just there are all sorts of ontologies or epistemologies. Certain hermeneutic doctrines must be wrong, for there exist mutually exclusive opinions in the field. But there's a difference between critiquing particular doctrines and dismissing the field of inquiry.

Everyone has some opinions on how best to interpret texts. Its extremely anti-intellectual to assume those opinions are not subject to any rational scrutiny. Do we really want to accuse Augustine--a neoplatonist who wrote a whole book critically examining how to interpret scripture a millienium and a half before postmodernism--of being an intellectual nihilist?

In addition, there's rank confusion over the distinction between hermeneutics as an input into scientific epistemology and hermeneutics as an aid to understanding social processes. We as social scientists encounter language that must be interpreted, but--unlike physical scientists--so do the objects of our study, choosing (and interpreting) agents.

There is all the difference in the world between saying that agents in social processes engage in interpretation and saying that economic theory is mere interpretation. And any real Austrian should know better, because we know to correct the perfectly analogous confusion between subjectivist economics and claims that economic laws are only subjectively valid.

Hermeneutics is a necessary constituent of Misesian thymology. (You can argue that thymology isn't economics proper, but then you'd have to argue that price theory isn't economics proper. Prices are signals that have to be understood.) It may be less useful in understanding the nature of economic theory itself (as I believe it is), but that is irrelevant to the central and undeniable role it plays in the Austrian understanding of society.

"There are others within Joe's circle that I would have absolutely no qualms fighting with in an intellectual nasty manner."

I just wonder if this is ever sensible, even if justifiable. And which members anyhow?!

Sam,

""There are others within Joe's circle that I would have absolutely no qualms fighting with in an intellectual nasty manner."

I just wonder if this is ever sensible, even if justifiable. And which members anyhow?!
"

I'm not really Dr Boettke's spokesperson so I'm don't get the wrong impression. But I'm Hans-Hermann Flop is amongst them.

Oh, that went a bit wrong. It was meant to read:

I'm not really Dr Boettke's spokesperson so don't get the wrong impression. But I'm guessing Hans-Hermann Flop is one of them.

Pete and Dave,

Just give it up, you're not real, genuine, proper Austrian economists. You're, at best, pretenders, and, at worst, traitors. The council of elders has spoken, and your writing, attitude, and views have been judged--they stray too far from doctrine. Now you must pray for forgiveness from the holy trinity of Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard. Sumbit thyself, surrender to the apodictic certainty of praxeological reasoning. Perhaps, in time, you will be healed of you're unconscious left-wing postmodern ways. But, for now, you will be stripped of your ranks, and cast into the dreaded Mainstream. It is for the good of the Austrian economics tradition, which obviously cannot survive meddlesome critics within its fold.

Lee:

I was stripped of my ranks over twenty years ago when I withdrew my charter membership of the Mises Institute.

Hey Lee... I want to be stripped of my rank too!

Now, this sort of hit piece may have made sense before Leeson, Coyne, Stringham etc. but what is Salerno doing publishing this after "The Invisible Hook" was published?

Dr Horwitz, I'd think before wanting to get stripped of your rank, and opposed to merely repenting, Doktor Hoppe has some powerful connections (the prince of Liechtenstein) whose wrong side you wouldn't want to be on.

Pete,

Well said and done with specificity, unlike Joe, so that folks can at least understand the problem with Joe's sniping. Now take a deep breath and don't forget why you became a teacher of economics and liberty, to produce other passionate lovers of freedom like yourself. Let that get you out of bed everyday. There is too much at stake to get side tracked with those who have nothing better to do than shoot those who are on the same team.

Keep envisioning, teaching and producing rational arguments for the advancement of individual liberty. Grace to you.

Oh, you mean we cannot all spend grad school reading Roland Barthes and interpreting photographs?! Tant pis!

Isn't all the matters whether or not Salerno's article was peer reviewed?

If it passed peer review, who is anybody to argue with peer review.

Peer review = science.

Right?

C'mon Greg, stop strawmanning the argument. Peer review is neither necessary nor sufficient to establish something as good scholarship. It is, however, a strong indicator thereof. And people whose work has consistently not passed the peer review test bear a large burden of proof for demonstrating why it should be taken seriously.

Gunar Myrdal routinely passed peer review, and he even was awarded Nobel Prize for economics. He nevertheless believed that advanced technology should not be introduced in Africa because it would decrease demand for labor!

On the other hand, Einstein published his paper on general relativity in the journal that was not peer reviewed, but only editor-reviewed. Heizenberg published his seminal paper in which he established quantum mechanics as a science in a completely non peer reviewed journal where every member of German society of physicists could published anything he/she wanted without any control and review. Do you believe that Heizenberg and Eistein really bear "a large burden of proof" that they should be taken seriously? Peer review is indicator of nothing (except it is constantly being used by the people lacking arguments as an insult against opponents, for example in climate research where peer review became a complete joke - tool the gatekeepers, politicized scientists controlling once leading journals as Sience and Nature to exclude any research not-fitting their political agenda).

In economics, peer review is also a joke, as we have seen with Myrdal (and many others as well). Hayek's and Mises's papers NEVER would pass peer review today in leading economics journals. Which journal today would publish "The meaning of competition" for example? Or "Economic calculation is Socialist Commonwealth". Where is the model, where is the "empirical evidence"? Where is the "review of literature"?

Peter, very interesting. Sorry to know there are these kinds of allegations against you and such distinguished scholars like Don Lavoie, Prychitko, Horwitz, etc. I worry about the future of the Austrian School when I read these things.

Gabriel Zanotti
Argentina.

This image seems relevant:

http://b5.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/00132/59/29/132609295_l.gif

and this one:

http://twitpic.com/ctu3v

I've been called much worse by much much better.

This example of "Rothbarian" research seems relevant:

http://danieljdamico.com/Working%20Papers/Working%20Papers_files/The%20Day%20the%20Music%20Lived%20FULL%20DRAFT.pdf


While I think Austrian economics is great, I also think it has a lot wrong with it. If Austrian economics is to progress and become a stronger program, I think it needs to evolve some of its core propositions. But if the teachings of "the masters" -- worts and all -- are to define it forever, then I hope Austrian economics dies so that something better can replace it.

Perhaps Masonomics presents such a development.

"Peer review is neither necessary nor sufficient to establish something as good scholarship. It is, however, a strong indicator thereof."

With all due respect Prof. Horwitz, choose a side. If peer review is unnecessary and insufficient it isn't a valid measure of the quality of one's work. At the least, it's unreliable. If you, Prof. Boettke, and others wish to believe that "staying in the conversation" equals "real" scholarship that's your business. However, duplicitous (and frankly, cowardly) statements like the above do little to advance your position. The top of the fence is not the intellectual high ground.

Professor Horwitz is not cowardly because he chooses to avoid a straw-man. Was Einstein an imbecile because his school marks were so poor? Do school marks equal intelligence? Of course not; however, it is a strong indicator thereof.

Stewart,

If we can ignore Einstein's grades when measuring his intelligence, why can't we ignore Prof. Y's CV when measuring the quality of his or her work? Ultimately, we want to know if the scholarship is good or not. A "strong indicator" can only predict the likelihood of whether it will be good or not. But we don't want to know if it's likely to be good scholarship. We want to know if it is good scholarship.

If you want to know if it's raining outside do you consult the forecast or do you look out the window?

Joshua,

My apologies if I cannot give you an objective formula for determining the quality of someone's scholarship. All I can do is list the things that matter, with peer review being one of them. Saying peer review is neither necessary nor sufficient is not cowardly; it's the truth. I think it matters a lot, but there's enough false negatives and false positives for me to say it's not foolproof.

Asking for something more hydraulic than that is asking for the impossible.

Prof. Horwitz,

Thank you for addressing my comments. My "cowardly" remark was in reference to you on the one hand calling Greg's comment a straw man and then defending the alleged straw man with your caveat "but, it's a strong indicator thereof." You seem to be trying to have it both ways.

I'm guessing we would both agree that, at best, getting an article published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal indicates the scholar is more likely to have done "good" scholarship than if the article had been published on a personal blog for example. The peer review process may involve valid and objective measures of scholarship, e.g., verifying the author's data set; but, peer review, per se, is not such a measure. Sometimes an article is published simply because all 3 reviewers agree with the author's premise or methodology. This obviously does not mean all 4 aren't guilty of the same sloppy methods or faulty assumptions.

All I'm saying is the fact that a scholar's work appears or doesn't appear in peer-reviewed journals cannot tell us anything about the quality of the scholarship, itself. It can possibly predict the likely quality of the scholarship, but that's all it can do. Thus, one cannot make a claim that peer-approved scholarship is qualitatively better than other types of scholarship. Prof. Boettke frequently seems to argue otherwise which I find to be argumentum ad verecundiam.

I admit that your and Prof. Boettke's position is likely more subtle (well, yours at least). However, I also believe it's a slippery slope regardless. For this reason, I find nothing wrong with Prof. Salerno's position of advocating less-conventional career paths for would-be Austrian theorists and Prof. Boettke's criticism of it unfair and unjustified.

"Joe actually has the gall to cite Hans Hoppe's unpublished comment from the MPS meetings on Lavoie where Hoppe actually suggests that Lavoie's paper must have been written when he was on drugs. That is supposed to be an argument of professional quality to counter punkism! "

To set the record straight, Hoppe's paper has been published on his own site: http://www.hanshoppe.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/hoppe_lavoie.pdf
Now everyone can read the paper and check for oneself, not only the LSD comment but all the actual arguments presented.

"In particular, I believe the paper identifies counterproductive attitudes peculiar to proponents of a heterodox intellectual movement. Such attitudes are always liable to recur and must be vigilantly guarded against because they are likely to impede the movement's further progress, if not threaten its very survival."

Notice that Salerno shows no concern here for the truth -- what is vital is that heretics be stopped from deviating from Rothbardian dogma in order to protect the "movement".

Why even use the term “Austrian” anymore? I mean that as a serious question. I’m not sure there is much left of the school that hasn’t been assimilated into mainstream thinking. By Pete’s own admission the only thing left to distinguish Austrianism is its emphasis on knowledge and entrepreneurship. But is adherence to a specific intellectual tradition necessary to promote those ideas? I mean this with no disrespect for established economists self-identified as Austrians, but I think squabbles such as these just go to show that the Austrian school, as a freestanding paradigm, is effectively dead.

Speaking as an attendee of Mises University and the NYU Colloquium on Market Processes, I know many young scholars, myself included, have found it very difficult to even deviate from the intellectual tradition tied to the term. We become trapped- wary of exploring the ideas of other economists for fear of having our established views challenged while at the same time eager to get away from what we have begun to perceive as an outdated set of beliefs. In an earlier post, Pete said that he would abandon the term if it stopped being useful. I’m left wondering if that time has come.

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