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12 SINCE RHETORIC PROSPECTS FOR A SCIENTIFIC ECONOMICS Well, has it worked? Since the first edition in 1985, and before it the philosophically oriented paper in 1983, have economists paid attention? No. Most economists have reckoned from the title of the book that Aunt Deirdre "advocates" rhetoric, as "against" mathematics. Or else maybe she is ripping aside a veil, showing economics to be Not Science, Merely Literature. Or maybe she's just nuts. After all, in 1995 we got another piece of evidence "consistent with" that Hypothesis. I admit I get annoyed when the first question out of someone's mouth after they've read a piece of mine is, "How have economists reacted?" What annoys me is that it sounds like the questioner wants to get his opinions from a public opinion poll, instead of weighing and considering what I have said. It is the duty of professors to think for themselves, and to weigh and consider rhetorically and philosophically the thoughts of people who claim to be thinking. If more professors did their duty, rhetorical scandals like statistical significance or positive economics or modernist architecture would not go on and on as they do. The appeal to the herd of independent minds annoys. It reminds me of the attitude in progressive circles at the University of Massachusetts at the time of the Tienanmen Square demonstrations in 1989. The tanks had just stopped democracy in China, and we had watched it happen on Channel 3 with Dan Rather. What to think? Anyone who thought for herself knew what to think: What a horrible thing to do! Down with the dictators! But the progressives hesitated. As one of them explained to a friend of mine: I have to see what the editorials say. I have to get the line. After all, socialism is Good, and China is socialist. How have politically correct people reacted? But the curiosity about how people have reacted to The Rhetoric of Economics is not always so craven as the Massachusetts progressives. I 187 188 Since Rhetoric have done a weird thing (all right: two weird things). Economics is a "conservative" field, at least by comparison with anthropology and performance art. Good Lord, how have those stiffs reacted? As I say, to the book (not to the other weird thing) they have reacted imperfectly from my point of view. True, the book was widely and favorably noticed. I hope you yourself noticed and were impressed. But even its friends kept getting it wrong in ways that let them go on as before . A wonderful review by Bob Heilbroner in the New York Review of Books, for example, said, This is nice, but after all it's just about Style, not Substance. Oh, Bob, Bob. When am I going to persuade you that style is substance, you master of style? Bob Solow from another ideological direction had the same idea and evokes from me the same response. Oh, Bob, Bob. The number of economists who have understood the book and then acted on the understanding in print is to my knowledge small: Arjo Klamer first (he in fact discovered the point independently in his Ph.D. dissertation at Duke), Jack Amariglio, John Davis, Jerry Evensky, Willie Henderson, Don Lavoie, Hans Lind, William Milberg. Not a middle -of-the-road neoclassical establishment figure among them. And anyway not many of any description. I am calm about this. Really I am. I strike some people as arrogant, though more so in my former gender than now, I hope. But truly I am as modest a lady as anyone could wish, very sweet and unassuming. I would never assume in particular that people who do not read my books or do not understand them or do not agree with them are fools and knaves. Well, some are, and I sometimes feel impelled to say so. That's nasty: I shouldn't. But I really do not expect people to agree with me. People haven't agreed with me as a soft Marxist, as a social engineering transport economist, as a quantitative economic historian, as a Chicago School economist, as a neoinstitutionalist, as a libertarian, as a global monetarist, as a free market feminist. No wonder they don't agree with me as a rhetorician of science. Of course, like most people, I do assume that those folks are wrong and I am right. (And in sober truth-can I confide in you as a friend?I am right.) But no...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299158132
Related ISBN
9780299158149
MARC Record
OCLC
608692467
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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