I've just started reading Deirdre McCloskey's book, sent to me in my intro packet to the Mercatus Center, How to Be Human*: *Though an Economist. So far, I've been loving it. She believes in Economics as a social science, rather than the illegitimate stepchild of Mathematics. As I've said before, Economics is the study of human behavior, albeit not a fully inclusive study. Which is why it has always bothered me that there isn't more interaction between Economics and the other social sciences. I think the disconnect is there for a couple reasons. First, the type of person who goes into Sociology, History, etc, and the type of person who goes into Economics, at least traditionally and in general, are two very different types of people, who don't communicate with each other very well. Secondly, Economics really wants to be a Physical Science, rather than a Social one. Much of Economics uses statistical significance as truth, and Economic data as the experimental data of a physicist.
Anyways, I think that was a tangent off of a tangent that distracted me from my original tangent. In one of her essays she denounces the usual words that Economists use to describe other Economists; 'smart' and 'nice,' instead preferring 'good' as in, Good Economist and Good Person. She points out that the two are not perfectly, if at all, correlated.
I can accept that it's easy for a scientist working in the 'hard sciences' to have no correlation between their success in their field and their success as a Human Being. If something is objectively provable (ie, based in mathematics), then all you need is to be smart. But in the Social Sciences, I would argue, there should be a much bigger correlation. Any Social Science, not being based on mathematics, has to be built on an underlying philosophy. And in a 'you shall know them by the fruit they bear' way, I believe that people's success as Human Beings (ie, being a Good Person), is reliant on their underlying philosophy. Which is why I don't find it absurd when Ayn Rand portrays the only happy people in her books as the people with fully constructed philosophies (and in her works, of course, they're all objectivists). If someone is a good Social Scientist, then they should also have a good underlying philosophy, and the same with their being a Good Person.
What economic activities are “tradable”?
2 months ago