The Difference Between “Operational” and “Intuitionistic”.


[I] use the term “Operational” in preference to “Intuitionistic” because the term “intuitionistic” is an uncomfortable one (like “rent-seeking”) that is open to easy misinterpretation, and the term “operational” invokes the meaning that I want it to: actions that humans can possibly take.

But this is a personal act of argumentative license. There is a significant difference between the terms Operational(actions we take to observe and measure) and Intuitionistic(physical and mental operations that it is possible for humans to perform).

In practice, when speaking tests of existential possibility, macro economic measures must be performed operationally, often using logical and physical instrumentation. But tests of existential possibility, rationality, and voluntary and involuntary transfer, require only sympathetic testing (reducing economic phenomenon to at least loosely rational sequence of actions that are subjectively believable).

So just as mathematical operations must be mentally possible and logically consistent (maintaining a balance of ratios), so must sequences of human actions be mentally possible (posses information to do so), subjectively consistent (what we often mistakenly call ‘rational’, but meaning preferential), and if physical action required, physically possible.

Lest someone leap to conclusions, The difference between mathematical systems and real world systems, is the difference between axiomatic(closed) and real (open) in which humans are constantly subject to information by which they can rearrange the priority of preferences in vast overlapping networks, as well as attempt to outwit one another (contrarian opportunism).

As such, since in an axiomatic system all information is present, and in a real-world(open) system, all information can never be present, our ability to deduce outcomes is dependent on the degree to which the information is closed (invariant): the more open the system is to new information the less predictive it can be – and as Taleb has demonstrated, shocks generate more consequential signals than predictable signals, and the information required to anticipate signals in the tail is many thousands of times higher than the same predictability within the primary distribution. Therefore while we can deduce general trends in economic phenomenon, we cannot deduce all economic phenomenon with any degree predictive success. Yet we can (usually) explain observed phenomenon given time.

This means that the Austrian program is largely correct: that economic policy will produce deterministic results. But the position of the main stream opposition is that the good achieved by manipulation is greater than the harm caused by economic distortion. (This remains the central subject of contention, since it will be very hard to prove on way or another.)

The general trend in economics has been one in which we attempt to provide that improvement by disallowing a shortage of money that would impede growth, by targeting various empirical measures of questionable use, and using the maximum borrowing capacity of the state as a means of inter-temporally adjusting investments in infrastructure and commons. But this emphasis has led to ignoring the means by which economies perform: demographics, education policy, industrial policy, rule of law, homogeneity of culture, and trust. In other words: taking human capital for granted under the false assumption of equality and the good of diversity.

And this is problematic, because the first most important criteria for economic performance in the absence of external inputs of technology, or military conquest, or possession of unique territory, is trust. And the corporeal state, multiculturalism, and universalism appear to erode that trust systematically – with predictable results.

So, while I may switch from Operationalism (broader) to Intuitionism (narrower) at present I prefer the broader term because of its general meaning and broader scope even though in economics the term Intuitionism is probably closer to corresponding with the purpose I intend: a requirement for the existential possibility of operations in order to criticize our assumptions (premises).

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine