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Logos Abused: The Decadence and Tyranny of Abstract Reasoning in Economics

The writer acknowledges the role and value of abstract reasoning in economics. He has done his share of it, and is not reacting against rationalism or marginalism. Abstract, however, should not mean abstruse or obscure; theoretical should not mean irrelevant or impractical; ideal should not mean intolerant or imperialistic. Theorists are increasingly scorning those rules and carrying their work beyond its proper role to extremes of abstrusity, irrelevance and presumption that are damaging and screening out students and writers whose purpose is to understand and apply economic reasoning to the human condition. This paper seeks through historical parallels to understand the animus behind that movement, and suggest how to check its excesses.

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