Beyond Positivism, Behaviorism, and Neoinstitutionalism in Economics (Paperback)

Beyond Positivism, Behaviorism, and Neoinstitutionalism in Economics By Deirdre Nansen McCloskey Cover Image
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A penetrating analysis from one of the defining voices of contemporary economics.

In Beyond Positivism, Behaviorism, and Neoinstitutionalism in Economics, Deirdre Nansen McCloskey zeroes in on the authoritarian cast of recent economics, arguing for a re-focusing on the liberated human. The behaviorist positivism fashionable in the field since the 1930s treats people from the outside. It yielded in Williamson and North a manipulative neo-institutionalism. McCloskey argues that institutions as causes are mainly temporary and intermediate, not ultimate. They are human-made, depending on words, myth, ethics, ideology, history, identity, professionalism, gossip, movies, what your mother taught you.  Humans create conversations as they go, in the economy as in the rest of life.

In engaging and erudite prose, McCloskey exhibits in detail the scientific failures of neo-institutionalism. She proposes a “humanomics,” an economics with the humans left in.  Humanomics keeps theory, quantification, experiment, mathematics, econometrics, though insisting on more true rigor than is usual. It adds what can be learned about the economy from history, philosophy, literature, and all the sciences of humans. McCloskey reaffirms the durability of “market-tested innovation” against the imagined imperfections to be corrected by a perfect government. With her trademark zeal and incisive wit, she rebuilds the foundations of economics.

About the Author

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is distinguished professor emerita of economics and of history, and professor emerita of English and of communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Praise For…

"A compact discussion of some crucial issues economists should be contemplating."
— The Enlightened Economist

"Beyond Positivism [presents] a criticism and reshaping of economic thought that departs from neoinstitutionalism and other non-'humanomical' movements, promoting the ethics of liberalism as the ideal foundation for an adequate economic science."
— Journal of Economic Literature

“The manuscript is a collection of writings for various forums, many reviews of others and many replies to critics. One unifying theme is a critique of neoinstitutional economics. But yet another theme is a defense of the bourgeois trilogy against its critics. This book is well worth a read.”
— Richard Langlois, University of Connecticut

“This new book deepens the continuing conversation in Humanomics. It’s essentially about discovering Adam Smith and resuming a path that McCloskey has so magnificently helped to reinvigorate in the last half century.”
— Vernon Smith, Chapman University and 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics

Product Details
ISBN: 9780226819440
ISBN-10: 0226819442
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: June 30th, 2022
Pages: 192