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Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics


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Table of Contents

Part I. Exordium: 1. A positivist youth; 2. Kicking the dead horse; Part II. Narration: 3. Economics in the human conversation; 4. The rhetoric of economics; Part III. Division: 5. The Science word in economics; 6. Three ways of reading economics to criticize itself; 7. Popper and Lakatos: thin ways of reading economics; 8. Thick readings: ethics, economics, sociology and rhetoric; Part IV. Proof: 9. The rise of a scientistic style; 10. The rhetoric of mathematical formalism: existence theorems; 11. General equilibrium and the rhetorical history of formalism; 12. Blackboard Marxism; 13. Formalists as poets and politicians; Part V. Refutation: 14. The very idea of epistemology; 15. The tu quoque argument and the claims of rationalism; 16. Armchair philosophy of economics: Rosenberg and Hausman; 17. Philosophy of science without epistemology: the Popperians; 18. The Rosenberg: reactionary modernism; 19. Methodologists of economics, big-M and small; 20. Getting 'rhetoric': Mark Blaug and the Eleatic Stranger; 21. Coats/McPherson/Friedman: anti-meta-post-modernism; 22. Splenetic rationalism, Austrian style; 23. The economists of ideology: Heilbroner, Rossetti, and Mirowski; 24. Rhetoric as morally radical; Part VI. Peroration: 25. The economy as a conversation; 26. The consequences of rhetoric.

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Argues that economics is a science, but a human science: a witty guide to the ins and outs of economic philosophy.


"...witty, learned, inventive, disputatious, stylish, and aimed at the heart of economics as a discipline." Business History Review "McCloskey's book is well written and covers a remarkable breadth of methodology in economic science, which will not fail to stir the economist's interests and protest, though most economists are not familiar with them. It is also provocative, evocative, and most of all entertaining." The Southern Economic Journal "If you have a serious interest in the human sciences and you enjoy dazzling intellectual aerobics, then McCloskey's writing is for you. He brings to his exposition an extraordinary grasp of literature, literary criticism, poetry, history, philosophy, and the natural and social sciences, and delivers his message with stunning ingenuity and flourish. Reading McCloskey s fun. Whatever you learn is a bonus." Robert Higgs, Liberty "Buy this book...a modest price these days for 400 pages of superb text and 38 pages of rich bibliography. You should definitely read it, because McCloskey writes engagingly about so many matters on which all economists ought to reflect. And you shouldn't read the library copy or a copy borrowed from a friend, because you'll want to underline phrases, bracket paragraphs, and mark items in the bibliography for future consultation." Paul Heyne, Bulletin of the Association of Christian Economists "There is no doubt that this latest book has benefitted from the decade that has passed, a decade that witnessed numerous developments in science studies, rhetoric, and philosophy. McCloskey is an intent listener and he integrates the fruits of his omnivorous appetite with the added flavor of his own wittiness and playfulness...His style is provocative and entertaining...In my view, McCloskey's arguments are extremely persuasive." Yuval Yonay, Journal of Economic Literature "The book reviewed here is actually the third installment of a trilogy, which began with The Rhetoric of Economics and includes If You're So Smart...To sum up: the views presented in the book are in several aspects richer than McCloskey's earlier views." Pragmatic & Cognition

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