[P]seudoscience hurts us. Conspiracy theory hurts us. Immoralism hurts us. Rothbard hurts us every day. MI has got to stop their absurdity. Cosmopolitanism, Marxism, Socialism, Postmodernism, Libertinism, and Neoconservatism are all dead campaigns from the era when we assumed democracy would prevail, and ideologies were needed to use the voting booth or revolution in order to sieze power. They were lies. Very complex lies. The high art of lying was invented in the construction of monotheism, and mastered over many generations to emerge as german rationalism and cosmopolitan pseudoscience.
The argument in the article is false. We *MAY* not be able to ascertain the first principle, or principles of the physical universe – although that appears increasingly likely that we can. Certainly Hawking thinks we are less than a century away from it. It is becoming difficult to understand how we might even fail to understand it.
Laws in physics can absolutely be established at given scales, newton’s laws are precise enough for all human action at human scale. Einstein’s laws are precise enough for all possible human actions that we are currently capable of. But just as Einstein did not falsify newton’s laws within human scale, it is very unlikely that any further advancement in theoretical physics will invalidate Einstein’s theories at the scale in which he applied them. THe fact that we can use plasma cutters does not mean carpenters were engaged in error, only that they were working at lower degrees of precision – at human scale.
We have observed many laws in the physical universe that are constant within a given scale, and since all actions take place within a given scale, we require only precision within a scale necessary for action. (this is a profound statement that is easily overlooked in our search for a single rule (an ideal type) rather than a spectrum of rules applicable for actions at any given scale.)
We may also, in the future, see odd permutations in the physical universe that we cannot explain, but that we need not repeat study of once those laws are understood. Except that is, when we pass beyond one scale or another. This is the reason for experimentation, NOT CONFIRMATION. The reason science requires operational demonstration is that we cannot anticipate the limits (scale) of any set of premises. And as we saw with time and length, very basic assumptions about the world change at different scales of precision. The subatomic world may seem very small and imaginary but we reach that scale far more quickly than we seem to think – and we toss around numbers that represent quantities, and mathematical measurements, that are far larger than than the smallest possible physically existential meaning of the term ‘length’.
In human affairs we may reduce economic propositions to a sequence of necessary human actions, and all such human actions are decidable – at least in the aggregate. This is true. Because we ourselves are identical enough in our ability to sympathize with one another’s decisions to make rational choices. But we cannot yet make the same claim about the physical universe.
We cannot say the same about groups of humans either – except at general, and abstract scale. So when we make a statemetn about commercial human action, that tells us very little. Prices are most often marginally indifferent, and for other than commodities, we make most of our decisions by other means. The general behavior of populations varies significantly from country to country (Russian tolerance for suffering, and American tolerance for change as interesting examples.) And these biases are not deducible from first principles even if, under some scrutiny and with some work, they are explainable (operationalizable).
We still do not now for example, how long it takes and under which conditions a minimum wage will propagate through the economy, we only know that as a general rule that it will have some negative affect on some people or other. We can deduce (and frequently measure) that it produces permanently unemployable who miss bottom entry into the workforce.
But this does not tell us much of value, it is like saying the wind blows most often from the west, but tells us nothing how we should navigate the sea from bristol to the cape this season.
We may never be able to model gasses or protein foldings or economies particularly well other than in the aggregate. We may not be able to make general statements about human beings either except in the aggregate. But it is very likely that we can make general statements about humans and gasses sufficient for all necessary, possible, and affordable human action regarding humans and gasses.
Just as new property rights applications must be invented (laws), in human affairs, just as in the physical universe, the consequences of complexity are vast, and require constant empirical measurement, because humans are always inventing new ways of doing things and any action we took yesterday has produced multiple adaptations. The universe is not. It cannot try to outwit itself, but man is constantly benefitting from outwitting the course of events and capturing the difference in states for his benefit.
I could go on, but I have beaten this particular rothbardian fallacy to death already – not that I needed to since Einstein did it himself.
To know anything of any scale that is not directly experiential we must make use of different technologies to compensate for our limited cognitive and perceptive abilities:
Instrumental (measurable if not observable)
Empirical (observable and recordable)
Operational (existentially demonstrable)
Logical (internal consistency)
Decidable (sufficient information to make a decision)
Theoretical ( Hypothesis->Theory->Law)
THE CORRECT ARGUMENT – REPAIRING THE ROTHBARDIAN FALLACY
1) All economics is empirical, just as all sciences are empirical. It is just that we do not require hypothetical or instrumental means of testing propositions in economics – we ourselves are the instrument and as such are capable of determining whether propositions are decidable and how.
2) Economists do not try to understand man except as a byproduct of their work – they try to understand how to use Fiscal, Monetary, Trade, Educational, Cultural, and institutional Policy to produce economic velocity. To cast their work as the study of action is dishonest, and to cast economics as the study of human action is dishonest, since human action is primarily subjective, cooperative, moral and reproductive and only economic as a consequence, of being subjective, cooperative, moral and reproductive
3) Economic interference IS IMMORAL when it causes involuntary transfers (independent of prohibiting free riding), or negative externalities. It is not unscientific. It’s just immoral. We don’t need to make pseudoscientific nonsense-arguments based upon absurd marxist and german rationalism in order to criticize redistributive economics in an attempt at imitating marxist socialist and postmodern methods of argumentative deception. Economic interference is immoral. it’s theft. It’s involuntary transfer. It’s not unscientific. It’s just theft. That’s all. Theft is just as open to scientific analysis as is voluntary exchange.
The opposite is true: it is unscientific to claim that economics isn’t instrumental, empirical, operational, decidable and theoretical – just like all human knowledge. It’s dishonest (and false) to state that economic premises are apodictically certain at other than very large scale and in unpredictable time frames. Einstein demonstrably killed apriorism for non-reductio cases forever – and economics is not a reductio domain.
4) The study of MORAL Economics would be the discipline of political economy and the institutional means by which to facilitate voluntary exchanges between individuals for the construction of commons without the need for involuntary redistribution to produce commons. This is what I have tried (and I think succeeded) in doing in Propertarianism.
It is non-rational to adopt the ghetto ethic of denying the competitive value of commons, when hight rust and property rights themselves are commons that were only producible in the west because the west’s primary competitive advantage is in the production of COMMONS. As such an attack on commons is an attack on the west. (Which is in no small part the cosmopolitan strategy.) And it is this immorality that I chastise in rothbardians on a daily basis.
A government of voluntary exchanges in the production of commons is no more immoral than a market of voluntary exchanges for the purpose of production, trade, distribution and consumption. None.
The Propertarian Institute