Saturday, May 8, 2010

CFP: "Methodology of alleged scientific failure: The crisis of 2008-09" Symposium at EAEPE Conference, Bordeaux (28-30 Oct, 2010)

The latest economic crisis has raised a lot of questions about the state of economics as a scientific endeavor. After the crisis, practicing economics such as Paul Krugman (among many others) started questioning the performance of economics as a science and the explanatory and predictive roles of its highly abstract mathematical models. The following is an indicative passage from Paul Krugman’s NY Times article: “[...] the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. [...] When it comes to the all-too-human problem of recessions and depressions, economists need to abandon the neat but wrong solution of assuming that everyone is rational and markets work perfectly. The vision that emerges as the profession rethinks its foundations may not be all that clear; it certainly won’t be neat; but we can hope that it will have the virtue of being at least partly right.”

In July 2009, philosophy of economics was on the cover of The Economist that asked: “What went wrong with economics?” However, although philosophers of economics have been discussing these same issues for a long time, they were not mentioned in The Economist. So it was philosophy of economics that was on the cover of The Economist, not philosophers of economics or any of their contributions. Moreover, philosophers of economics did not actively contribute to the lively methodological discussion after the crisis. So philosophers of economics were late in responding to the pressing questions that economists and the general public were asking.
To improve the situation slightly, we are organizing a symposium at the EAEPE conference in Bordeaux (28-30 October 2010). We are looking for papers that will diagnose the alleged failures of economics, will evaluate the status of economics after the crisis, and will provide some answers to the questions that practicing economists and the general public have been asking about economics.
Please send a proposal for a contribution (400-500 words) to Uskali Mäki and Emrah Aydinonat . Please send your proposals as soon as possible – no later than 30 May 2010.


  1. (1) It is well-known that economists, starting sometime in the 1970's, walked over to the physics department and borrowed numbers and graphs and so on, without justification. This has had all sorts of bad consequences.

    (2) It is furthermore well-known that economists arbitrarily focus on efficiency and not equity, because they distrust philosophers.

    (3) Nobel-prize winning economist Dean Baker has shown that economics is fine, what's wrong is economists themselves who, like Robert Schiller, are afraid of questioning the consensus. No mystery here! As Baker as proven, third graders identified the housing bubble.


  2. Noted, maybe you'll enjoy a visit to Bordeaux, but...
    (1) economists have been borrowing techniques and metaphors from physicists far longer than a generation. Mathematical economics was founded by two physicists (Cournot and Newcomb) in the nineteenth century.

    (2) Depending on context, economists focus on equity, too. (For useful starting references, see...ahum... the wikipidea entry on "Equity (economics)".

    (3) When did Dean Baker win the Nobel? Economists are no different than other human beings.

  3. This quote seemed appropriate:
    "All models are wrong, some models are useful."