Thursday, August 2, 2012

Peter Boettke Under the David Gordon MIcroscope

David Gordon is out with an important review of a new book by Peter Boettke, Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

As always, Gordon's sharp eye results in a very thorough examination of the book. Gordon writes, for example:
Although Boettke seems to me to be right in his protests against the excesses of formalism, at times his assault rests on assertion unsupported by argument. He says that Chicago School economists held that "real markets come breathtakingly close to approximating the efficiency properties of general competitive equilibrium" (p. 280), but he fails to show that all of these economists had been beguiled by their mathematical models into ignoring reality. Was this true, e.g., of Milton Freidman and Yale Brozen? These economists seemed rather to argue that many important markets consisted of large numbers of small firms and that claims that monopolies engage in predatory pricing are exaggerated. His case seems stronger for Robert Lucas; but even here, Boettke does not show exactly where Lucas's models fail. He acts rather as if it were enough to state Lucas's view to show its absurdity: the New Classical view is "obviously contrary to reality" (p. 301). Perhaps it is, but Boettke needs to prove it and not just say it.
Despite these criticisms, Boettke's book merits the attention of all students of Austrian economics. Boettke's enthusiasm and devotion to a free economy are everywhere apparent.
Read the entire review here.


  1. I think Gordon dealt with his views quite coolly and professionally. But Boettke is less sloppy a thinker than Molyneux so his errors are less egregious. Though I like both Rand and Molyneux, they were/are both sloppy academics. They may do a good job of getting our message out there but without intellectual precision there is always the risk of our views being caricatured and strawmanned, which did happen to Rand. Mostly because her critics are arrogant, mouthbreathing morons but also because she opened herself to attack by herself caricaturing philosophers other than herself. Molyneux doesn't tend to do this but he does opine on topics he knows little about often reaching silly conclusions. He also does not acknowledge intellectual forebears.

  2. Although David Gordon seems to me to be right sometimes, at times his assault rests on well poisoning and strawmen, brought about by his refusing to understand or even read the thesis of the books he reviews.

  3. Too bad Gordon didn't use his power of having sharp eyes when reviewing Molyneux's book UPB.