2011 October 17
Re: Economics Has Met the Enemy, and It Is Economics
Ira Basen refers to French students who demand a new economics to “deliver us from abstraction.” Few statements could be more dangerous.
Without abstraction, we could not make sense of the world. Abstraction allows us to understand that things appearing to our senses as similar can be categorically different, and that things appearing to us as different can be categorically alike.
The problem is when abstraction leads you to believe that you have a fundamentally different problem than what you actually have. As Ludwig von Mises long ago observed, the problem with neoclassical economic models is that they teach us how the world would be, if men were different from what they really are.
Victoria L. Henderson,
PhD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s University
(Link to the article that prompted this letter)
Henderson, Victoria L. (2011) Dismal missives. The Globe and Mail. 17 October, A14.