Saturday, November 30, 2013

Marie Duggan on Steven Kates and the role of History of Economic Thought

Marie has reviewed Kates' recent book on the role of history of economic thought in what he correctly sees as a crisis in the profession. She tells us:
Steven Kates warns us that if the history of economic thought (HET) leaves the field of economics, economics will lose a good bit of its theoretical heart (p. 27). He makes this argument against two opposing straw men. The first is those who define an economist as someone who can apply sophisticated econometric techniques to data. The other is the view among HET practitioners that since HET has been shunted aside within economics by mathematics, the wise make allies with historians. He views this latter as dangerous to economics as a discipline: “The core issue is whether the subject area of the history of economic thought adds to the study of economics. The question is not whether there are a thousand other uses of HET” (p. 67). 
This book acts as a wake-up call that practitioners in HET may have an honorable role to play in reversing the decline of theory in our profession. That’s a big task, and Kates certainly has the fighting spirit.
Read the whole review here.

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