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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6335/a-rose-by-any-other-name/

A Rose By Any Other Name

March 5, 2007 by

Daniel B. Klein proposes that economists of the “Smith-Hayek” variety ought to distinguish themselves from the mainstream economists who have usurped the title to prop their econometric orthodoxy.

Perhaps ten percent of economists in the United States share the broad character represented by Smith, Say, and Bastiat. Would it make sense for them to distinguish their character in some way? Would it make sense for them to cultivate a suitable identity? In this essay, I explore the heterogeneity of character types in economics, delineate the “Smith-Hayek” character, and explain why it might be beneficial for that character to establish an identity that functions in both the professional and public cultures.

As one commenter noted on Cafe Hayek‘s blog, the characteristic which best captures the divide between the two–

… is a heavy reliance on deductive reasoning, while the mainstream form of model building and GDP forecasting relies to a much greater extent on inductive reasoning. Would the brand “Deductive Economics” be out of place?


RogerM March 5, 2007 at 5:18 pm

I think Klein is right. It’s awkward to define oneself as “Austrian” and requires a long explanation. Smith and Bastiat weren’t Austrians, either.

I don’t have a good name, yet, but think one should emphasize human action and capital, the too distintives of Austrian econ. Some suggestions: Humanist Economics, Capitalist Econ?

melt_core March 5, 2007 at 5:22 pm

And let statists transform our terminology like we already did with ‘liberalism’?

Ben March 6, 2007 at 5:55 am

How about we re-define “Austrian economics” as “Economics” and integrate mainstream economics into Statistics where it belongs?

David White March 6, 2007 at 8:34 am


Quite right, as the notion of schools of economics is ultimately as meaningless as schools of arithmetic. Which is to say that Austrian economics “adds up,” while others don’t, no matter how hard the jiggle the numbers.

gene berman March 7, 2007 at 6:36 am

Ben and D. White:

I sympathize with your frustration. But, ultimately, the author is “right on” with his Shakespeare allusion.

In attempting to acquaint the broad public with the superiority of one or another program or mode of thought, there’s more power in the appearance and smell of the rose than in its name. Propaganda has its place, it is true, but even when you “sell the sizzle instead of the steak,” it’s only because your customers are already sold on the steak which the “sizzle” brings to mind.

RogerM March 7, 2007 at 9:12 am

How about “Unified Economics”, since only Austrians can unite micro and macro?

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