Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Steve Keen on “Teaching Economics the Pluralist Way”

Steve Keen gives a talk below on “Teaching Economics the Pluralist Way,” which was given to the Amsterdam Rethinking Economics students in the Netherlands:

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  1. Isn't there a danger that this becomes just a form of cultural relativism though?

    1. Yes. All this talk of needing "diversity: and "pluralism" in economics seems like some clever rhetoric ploy to me, more than anything else.

      In reality, we don't want that that type of ideological "diversity": we want the truth, not neoclassicals, Marxists, and Austrians, and assorted lunatics all over the economics departments.

      That is to say, we need a set of theories that actually do describe the real empirical world of modern capitalism economies, not economic "pluralism" per se.

      Also, the "pluralist" approach in methodology or economic epistemology -- which some Post Keynesians appear to want -- is basically Postmodernist B.S.

      Somebody should tell Steve Keen this (though I think he already understands the latter point about methodology).

    2. Interesting point about ideological diversity. I've noticed right-wing/centrist classical liberals say that despite the left's love of diversity they seem to hate diversity of thought. Fair enough, that does describe a lot of the left today. However, some of these classical liberals also want there to be more conservatives and right-wingers in universities, which seems to be diversity for diversity's sake, in its own way. It's about having several ideologies competing with each other, at the expense of trying to develop a coherent and empirically-grounded analysis of things that are worth studying, such as how modern capitalism really operates.
      Yes, argument and debate can be good, but not all debates are equal or even useful. Who cares, for example, about debates between anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists when they have just about no relevance to the world today and likely no relevance in the future?

      I think Post-Keynesians should be clear that their analysis isn't inherently left- or right-wing, which Bill Mitchell (not quite a Post-Keynesian, I know) admits of MMT in his London talk, 'Reframing the Progressive Agenda'.

      Marx, the Austrians, the neoclassicals and others would probably be better taught in the history of economic thought rather than in economic theory or economic policy (with some exceptions, of course, for some genuinely useful Marxist/Austrian/neoclassical insights).