chapter  2
41 Pages

The transgressive knowledge of “ersatz” economics

ByJack Amariglio and David F. Ruccio McCloskey and “ersatz” economics

The rhetorician of economics, Deirdre McCloskey, has become best known for her strident and persuasive attack on the “modernism” that has characterized economic discourse during much of this century, especially post-World War II neoclassical and Keynesian thought. In her call for economists to pay attention to the metaphors and narrative structures that comprise economic argument no less than they do the intellectual output of the humanities, McCloskey (1985a, 1990, 1994) has clearly identified and criticized the tendency in modernist economics to fetishize so-called scientific ways of constructing discourse. Her criticism focuses primarily on the related points that scientific discourse, in any field, and without question in economics, relies on standard, recognizable literary and discursive forms of persuasion and that the preference for what passes for science should not be grounded in the presumption that economists do something called theory which somehow is not a function of the forms of rhetoric and literary construction.