of Higher Education Article
on Challenges to Mainstream Economic Theory and
January 24, 2003, issue of the Chronicle of
Higher Education includes an article by Peter
Monaghan, titled Taking On 'Rational Man.'
The author describes disgruntled economists who
feel as if they are trying "to start a fire
under a huge wet blanket." While some orthodox
economists, like those at the University of Notre
Dame, feel that a single department does not have
room for both mainstream and alternative views,
others defend the mainstream position as being more
accommodating than the critics say. Steven Keen,
an economist at Australia's University of Western
Sydney "is unimpressed. He says mainstream
economists often tell reformers that they are attacking
a straw man. But economics curriculums are still
chockablock with the neoclassical. 'So I simply
respond,' he says, 'If what I demolish is a straw
man, why do you teach him?'"
refers to the textbook with alternative views that
is being prepared by Neva R. Goodwin
and colleagues at the Global Development and Environment
Institute at Tufts University. (See Microeconomics
in Context) He quotes Goodwin as deploring
the fact that "every year, 1.4 million undergraduates
in the U.S. take an introductory economics course
that teaches that only selfishness is rational."
refers to several movements in which dissidents
with a variety of objections to the mainstream are
now finding common ground. One of these is ICAPE,
the International Confederation of Associations
for Pluralism in Economics, which includes Marxian,
Austrian, and post-Keynesian economics, along with
"the intersections of economics and such realms
as feminism, environmentalism, and the law; and
evolutionary theory, which views economies as akin
to evolving biological systems." Monaghan notes
that ICAPE's World Conference on the Future of Heterodox
Economics will be held at the University of Missouri
at Kansas City, June 5-7 2003 (see www.icape.org).
Another growing dissident movement was started by
French graduate students, then joined, in petitions
and articles, by professional economists in France
and around the world. (See the Post-Autistic
Economics Review, http://www.paecon.net)
to "the Teflon Orthodoxy," Monagan says,
" Earlier attacks have left the American economics
mainstream unscathed. The American Economic Association's
Committee on Graduate Education in Economics, formed
in 1988 and packed with big names, found similar
faults with the discipline. One finding, says Mr.
Leamer, a panelist: 'Students could solve complex
math problems, but they couldn't solve simple economics
problems that would have been central in the 1960s.'
The committee's report appeared in 1991 in the flagship
American Economic Review 'and was then
ignored,' he recalls."
N. McCloskey is quoted as saying "Probably
three-quarters of the scholarly activity in economics
is useless, will result in no understanding of the
world…. Maybe higher. It's tragic."
see the full text of Peter Moneghan's article, click