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CONTENTS Preface to the Second Edition xi Acknowledgments for the First Edition xv Exordium xix 1 2 3 HOW TO DO A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF ECONOMICS, AND WHY 3 It's Not Philosophical Reading, It's Rhetorical 3 The Old Word "Rhetoric" Is a Good One 4 The Scientist Must Establish Her "Ethos" 7 Point of View Is a Scientific Choice 9 "Mere" Style Is Not Mere 10 Style Is Often an Appeal to Authority 11 Economists Are Poets 12 And Novelists 13 Be Not Afraid of Deconstruction and Other Terrors 15 Writing Is Performance 17 THE LITERARY CHARACTER OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE 20 Science Uses Literary Methods 20 Proofs of the Law of Demand Are Mostly Literary 23 Linguistics Is an Appropriate Model for Economic Science 28 Literary Thinking May Improve Applied Economics 31 FIGURES OF ECONOMIC SPEECH 35 Even a Mathematical Economist Uses, and Must Use, Literary Devices: The Case of Paul Samuelson 35 Most of the Devices Are Only Dimly Recognized 38 Models Are Nonornamental Metaphors: The Case of Gary Becker 40 Both Mathematical and Nonmathematical Reasoning in Economics Rely on Metaphor 44 vii viii Contents 4 5 6 7 The Master Tropes Rule Economics: The Case of Robert Solow 48 THE RHETORIC OF SCIENTISM: HOW JOHN MUTH PERSUADES 52 Muth's Article Was Ill-Written but Important 52 Muth's Main Points Can Be Expressed in English 54 Muth's Article Engages in the Usual Appeals to Scientific Method 58 Muth's Appeal Is in Fact to the Community of Scholars 61 The Explicit Arguments Are Rhetorically Complex 63 Muth's Rhetoric Is Indistinguishable from That in Other Fields 66 THE PROBLEM OF AUDIENCE IN HISTORICAL ECONOMICS: ROBERT FOGEL AS RHETOR 74 The Text Was Important 74 It Is a Most Rhetorical Book 77 It Uses Intensively the Common Topics 79 The Book Also Uses the Special Topics of Economics 82 The Text Invented an Audience 84 THE LAWYERLY RHETORIC OF COASE'S "THE NATURE OF THE FIRM" 87 Coase Solved His Problem of Ethos by Appeal to Axiom and Proof 87 But Coase Was an Advocate, Not a Prover 89 The Lawyerly Rhetoric Appeals to the Facts 91 And Yet Coase Is Indubitably an Economist 94 His Article Was about the Rhetoric in the Economy 95 Coasean Economics Is Anti-Modernist, "Gothic," Postmodern in Its Rhetoric 98 THE UNEXAMINED RHETORIC OF ECONOMIC QUANTIFICATION 100 Rhetorical Standards, for Example, Are Necessary to Measure the Integration of Markets 100 In Like Fashion, Rhetorical Standards Are Necessary in Linguistics to Measure the Similarity of Languages 104 8 9 10 11 ix Contents That Is, the Speech Acts of Scientists Are Conversations, Good or Bad 107 The Conversation on Purchasing Power Parity, for Example, Is Rhetorically Muddled 109 THE RHETORIC OF SIGNIFICANCE TESTS 112 Statistical Significance Has Ruined Empirical Work in Economics 112 Econometrics Confuses Statistical and Scientific Significance 115 The Rhetorical History of Statistics Is the Source of the Difficulty 120 A Lot Can Go Wrong When Using Statistical Significance 125 A Lot Did Go Wrong 129 THE POVERTY OF ECONOMIC MODERNISM 139 The Mathematization of Economics Was a Good Idea 139 But a Philosophy Got Mixed Up in the Mathematics 140 The Official Methodology of Economics Is "Modernist" 141 Modernism Is a Poor Method: For One Thing, It Is Obsolete in Philosophy 147 And Falsification Is Not Cogent 148 Profitable Prediction Is Not Possible In Economics 150 Modernism Is Impossible, and Is Not Adhered To 151 FROM METHODOLOGY TO RHETORIC 156 Any Rule-Bound Methodology Is Objectionable 156 Methodology Is Middle Management 159 Good Science Is Good Conversation 162 Rhetoric Is a Better Way to Understand Science 163 Other Sciences Have Rhetorics 164 ANTI-ANTI-RHETORIC 168 The Alternative to Modernism Is Not Irrationalism 168 The Political Arguments for Methodology Are Weak 171 We Wish to Make Plausible Statements, Whether "Scientific" or Not 175 x Contents 12 The Philosophical Objections to Rhetoric Are Not Persuasive 179 Anti-Modernism Is Nice 183 Rhetoric Is Good for You 184 SINCE RHETORIC: PROSPECTS FOR A SCIENTIFIC ECONOMICS 187 Bibliography 195 Index 219 ...


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