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A classic in its field, this pathbreaking book humanized the scientific rhetoric of economics to reveal its literary soul. In this completely revised second edition, Deirdre N. McCloskey demonstrates how economic discourse employs metaphor, authority, symmetry, and other rhetorical means of persuasion. "The Rhetoric of Economics" shows economists to be human persuaders, poets of the marketplace, even in their most technical and mathematical moods.

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23 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A surprisingly useful read 20 février 2003
Par Michael S Christian - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Even though this isn't the intent of the book (it's a persuasive work about the role of rhetoric in economics), I found this to be a really useful read when trying to write better economics papers of my own. It's ironically better in this regard than McCloskey's more explicitly instructional books, particular "Economical Writing," because of its emphasis on ideas rather than on rules; it advances a way of thinking about economics that makes economics easier to write about. For example, to McCloskey, economic models are metaphors, and I've found that writing about an economic model as a kind of metaphor rather than as some sort of idealized version of the truth is much easier. I don't pretend to have understood all of its insights (it's a challenging read), but the ones I understood were very helpful.
9 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Some good points with scope for improvement 28 mai 2011
Par Rafe Champion - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Deirdre McCloskey is a passionate advocate of rhetoric in economics as opposed to "big M" Methodology. She likes to project the image of a "tough New York broad" and the result is a style that obscures her message which is that we need to lift our game in critical arguments (which she calls rhetoric) instead of being over-awed by defective statistical analysis and especially by the ruling fashions in the positivist philosophy and methodology of science.

One of the best sources to support that case is Karl Popper but you would never know that from reading this book.

"I started again to read philosophy of science (I had stopped in graduate school, just short of the Karl Popper level). More important, around 1980 I came upon history and sociology of science that challenged the reigning philosophy. Scientists, these crazy radicals claimed, were not the macho saints that Popper said they were." (xi)

Popper was fairly aware of the human frailty to scientists and in chapter 23 of The Open Society and its Enemies he wrote:

"Everyone who has an inkling of the history of the natural sciences is aware of the passionate tenacity which characterizes many of its quarrels. No amount of political partiality can influence political theories more strongly than the partiality shown by some natural scientists in favour of their intellectual offspring..."

To round out Popper's point, whatever objectivity science enjoys does not come from the "objectivity" of individual scientists but from the quality of the discussion (rhetoric) in the profession. This is probably the point that McClosky was making.

In a critical section on modernism (essentially the positivism of the Vienna Circle and the logical empiricists who followed them) she "The logical positivists of the 1920s scorned what they called `metaphysics'. From the beginning, though the scorn has refuted itself. If metaphysics is to be cast into the flames, then the methodological declarations of the modernist family from Descartes through Hume and Comte to Russell, Hempel and Popper will be the first to go." (147)

However Popper was talking about the uses and the value of metaphysical theories in print since the mid 1950s and in lectures since the 1940s although it took a long time (until 1982) for the world o see the Metaphysical Epilogue to the third volume of Popper's "Postscript to the LSD".

Pressing on with the critique of modernism she wrote "The intolerance of modernism shows in Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies (1945) which firmly closed the borders of his open society to psychoanalysts and Marxists - charged with violating all manner of modernist regulations." (158)

I don't recall Popper writing very much about psychoanalysis in the OSE and his main target was not Freud or Marx themselves but people who refused to contemplate any criticism of the master. That does not close the borders to psychoanalysis because Popper considered that there was probably a lot of truth in Freud's ideas if only they were developed under the control of various forms of criticism.

The same applies to Marxism. Popper reacted against doctrinaire and fadist Marxism in the same way that he reacted against doctrines and intellectual fads of all kinds. Of course he regarded Marxism as much more than a fad and so he devoted several hundred pages of analysis to bring out the strong and weak points of it. It would be good to have some searching criticism of Popper's treatment of Marx from an economist with the track record of McCloskey!

These carping comments do not detract from the positive core of the book.
13 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Donald before the Deirdre 12 mai 2004
Par Adam A. Odorizzi - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Although the fame of the author has taken a probably undesirable sensationalistic turn as a result of Donald's becoming, in 1996, Deirdre, the ouevre of his real fame, genius, and erudition are on display in this, the first of his trilogy on the Rhetoric of Inquiry, economics style. The second two successively are "If You're So Smart..." and "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics". Though the third is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing works ever penned on economic methodology, his magnum opus (all three were written pre "crossing" so the pronoun "him" will be used). Cliche alert: This book should be required reading for ALL graduate economics students (though, again, the third even much more so). 'S hackneyed but 's true, friends. Buy it, read it, and you will feel what it's like to be inside the mind of a scholarly genius. He focuses on the rhetorical tetrad in economic analysis as a way of storytelling (rather than apodictic dogma) and a quick glance at his glossary will show you two things: 1. McCloskey has read pretty much every book and scholarly paper in the library on his subject and 2. His postmodernist proclivities. Although despite this many will be suprised to find that McCloskey is a libertarian, laissez-faire economist, a rarity even at the Chicago School, where he was reared and studied under Alchian, Stiglitz, and Friedman, among others. McCloskey in fact inspired me to see through a lot of the dishonest and snide ideological incompetents who have used postmodernism as a genus from which they derive their incoherent leftist, socialist positions. For example the laughably UNintellectual Eric Alterman (who is actually a fine researcher) who cites approvingly Hans Georg Gadamer and Richard Rorty, fellow leftists, with embarrassing naif and lack of understanding of their works or any integrated understanding of where they derive their own leftism. When, in fact, as McCloskey and others have shown, it (postmodernism qua socialism/progressivism/liberalism) is a nonsequitur, and proves too much when it's not. I have always been VERY dissappointed in the paucity of libertarian and conservative attempts at reconciling with the last 50+ years of postmodernist philosophical contributions to the literature. It is NOT postmodernism qua socialism v. modernism qua classical and neoclassical economics; and it never could be, according to both systems. McCloskey is your savior if you too want to be in-step philosophically and maintain your laissez-faire; laissez-passer. He is an amazingly endowed writer, thinker, and economist, but is truly at his best when writing on methodology and philosophy as it pertains to the dismal science. The book critizies armchair theorizing much as Feyerabend and James did and positivism as much as the Austrians currently do, though both will probably be dissatisfied to the extent at which he takes this analysis and the value he grants that both may have, taken synchretistically. However, this rapprochement between apriorism and positivism may be his single greatest achievement, even if it was merely a means to an end, losing no irony in his self-professed pragmatism! All-in-all, a wonderful book, very enlightening. Apodictics beware, McCloskey is not a kind foe!
5 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Better than the average monkey 14 juin 2006
Par C. Collins - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I first read this book as an undergrad economist, well over 10 years ago now. I discovered the book, in the course of writing about the evolution of the Phillips curve. What the Phillips curve offered, initially at least, was the embodiment of empirically-based economic theory, yet it metamorphosed, into the New Classical 'expectations-augmented' model, and the New Business School model with each, in turn, becoming accepted 'truth' by mainstream economics. What could account for this shift? Clearly it was not based on anything related to 'positive' economics or empiricism, since the theory behind the 'curve' (which was no longer a curve)had long since been wrung dry of any meaningful empirical content.

While I don't recall all of the details, this book, and McCloskey's other writings on the same theme, support the idea that, while Truth (to be differentiated from trivialities, things that are true 'by definition', for example), does exist, WE HAVE NO WAY OF COMING TO RECOGNISE IT - there are no objective criteria for doing so, that is distinguishing truth from falsity. It may come as a shock to some, but there is no dissenting from this point - if you know of any such criteria, let me know.

The slightly controversial, but logical, point that follows is, therefore, to disregard Truth as a 'useful' concept, with any explanatory power. The key to the acceptance of theory (as if it were the Truth), not just in economics, lies ultimately in its 'persuasiveness', something that is engendered through the use of 'mere rhetoric'. McCloskey is not arguing that this is how things 'should' be, but how they are - in grubby, messy reality.

If you doubt this to be so, try thinking about the recent Gulf War and arguments about WMD, as an illustration - it was Bush and Blair's ability to 'persuade' people, and politicians, that made the threat from Iraq real, or 'True'. That is, the threat might have existed independent of their pronouncements, but because we had no objective means of evaluating that, their pronouncements BECAME REALITY.

This is a text about the philosophy of economics that is extremely thought-provoking. It succeeds in challenging preconceptions of what is True and how we come to know it as such, that has implications far beyond economics. For anyone with an interest in philosophy, or economics, this is well worth reading, a real eye-opener.

Lord Chimp, the relativists will inherit the world, my friend. Like it or not, there is no black or white, only shades of grey, and neither is counterintuity synonymous with absurdity.
Should be required reading for all graduate students in economics 9 février 2014
Par Marc Bilodeau - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Prof. McCloskey is such an engaging and interesting writer. In this book, she succeeds in making the reader think and reconsider their writing habits. I am a professor of economics and I strongly recommend this book to my students. I think it ought to be required reading for all economics graduate students and anyone who wants to write about the economy.
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