TakingHayekSeriously🧨

TakingHayekSeriously🧨

04-09-2022

21:53

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro The fact that we can perceive, identify, and explain means-ends structures in the world does not mean that we must make appeal to a designing rational mind -- see again Darwin or the work of Larry Wright on teleological and functional explanation.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Hume, Smith, Menger, Hayek & others identify an empirical design-like order in human affairs which they explain by the causal mechanisms of rule following, adaptive learning & imitation, and empirical changes in judgments of the stuff of the world and their relative significance.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro This learning and these changing empirical judgments of the relative significance of things also takes place utilizing changing empirical judgments of the significance of changing and imperfectly understood price signals and profit and loss estimations.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro So we have here an account of the basics of how empirical causal explanation works in economic science, an explanatory template which directly parallels that of Darwin, perhaps the most explanatorily powerful program in the history of all of science.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Now Knight gives is a rival conception of "economics as a science". Knight is neither clear nor direct, but we can gather what he thinks. Knight thinks economic science is no more than the rational logic of individuals economizing using the logic of means and ends.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight counts discovery, learning, and changes in our understanding as against the conception of economics as science -- Hume, Smith, and Hayek count these as at the core of our understanding of the causal explanatory science of economics.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Here is Knight's essay

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Now Knights misconceptions of what science is & how explanation works in the domain of the biological, the human & the social are so vast that it would take a book to fully unpack them, deconstruct them, debunk them & replace them with a superior rival -- it's 19th century stuff.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro But let's go through some of Knight's mistaken conceptions about science and about economics as either a "rational" science or as an empirical science. Hume, Smith, Menger, and Hayek would all reject this Knight statement:

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight: The scientific problem of economics is the scientific treatment of the relations between man and his world. Note well that that is NOT the empirical scientific problem identified by Hume, Smith, Menger, and Hayek.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight: The general theory of economic science is the problem of life and that problem is to utilize resources economically ie to make them go as far as possible in the production of desired results.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight's casting of the problem is a logical problem. Hume, Smith, Menger and Hayek reject this as the empirical scientific problem which demands to be explained in economics.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight: The question of scientific economics is how far life can be reduce to a problem in the form of using given means to achieve given ends. Again, Hume, Smith, Menger & Hayek all reject this account of the scientific problem found in economics seen as an empirical science.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight, in other words, claims that what Hayek shows to be the pure tautological logic of means-ends orderings in the plan of one person is the sum and substance of economics as a science, a picture of the empirical science of economics rejected by Hume, Smith, Menger, and Hayek.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro But Knight's conception gets even weirder and more of a mess. After declaring that the "science of life" = "economics" = the logic of means and ends = "the problem of life" Knight bizarrely declares that this conception -- his conception -- is all wrong.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight proposes instead that "the problem of life" isn't a scientific problem at all, it is "at bottom an exploration in the field of values, an attempt to discover values, rather than on the basis of knowledge of them to produce and enjoy them to the greatest possible extent."

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro This is a giant "never mind" from Knight, an admission that his original account of what "economic science" was ie what the "science of life" was, is a mess, a kind of gigantic category mistake.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight's erroneous and just plain weird account of "the science of life" turns out to not be "economics" or the logic of means and ends , instead it is superseded by the non-science of personal self-discovery and self-actualization.

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro As Knight puts it, the "problem of life" he first claimed was a science is instead a 1960s hippy-like project of "striv[ing] to 'know ourselves,' to find out our real wants, [rather] than to get what we want."

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro Knight's conception reduces to nothing very different than Wilhelm Windelband's neo-Kantian bifurcation of reality and knowledge into formally mapped truths & the discovery of the changing historical and interpretive realm of human culture and human values

@angusarmstrong8 @cacrisalves @RebuildMacro It is this model of knowledge, reality, science, and society which Hume, Smith, Menger, and Hayek explode -- and they detonate it the same way that Darwin, Kuhn, Larry Wright and others detonate it.


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