Debunking mathematical economics

9 Mar, 2018 at 20:59 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

The belief in the power and necessity of formalizing economic theory mathematically has thus obliterated the distinction between cognitively perceiving and understanding concepts from different domains and mapping them into each other.quote-too-large-a-proportion-of-recent-mathematical-economics-are-mere-concoctions-as-imprecise-as-the-john-maynard-keynes-243582 Whether the age-old problem of the equality between supply and demand should be mathematically formalized as a system of inequalities or equalities is not something that should be decided by mathematical knowledge or convenience. Surely it would be considered absurd, bordering on the insane, if a surgical procedure was implemented because a tool for its implementation was devised by a medical doctor who knew and believed in topological fixed-point theorems? Yet, weighty propositions about policy are decided on the basis of formalizations based on ignorance and belief in the veracity of one kind of one-dimensional mathematics.

K. Vela Velupillai

Indeed. As social researchers, we should never equate science with mathematics. All science entail human judgement, and using mathematical models do not relieve us of that necessity. They are no substitutes for doing real science. Math cannot establish the truth value of facts. And as a great German philosopher once famously wrote:

There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

2 Comments

  1. Darn you Lars, looks like I need to head into Seattle again so I can get past the pay wall 😉

  2. Great post. People like Wren Lewis and Dani Rodick would like to have us believe that economics is like medicine. This post shows very clearly why that analogy is ridiculous. There are no equivalents to DSGE models in medicine.


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