Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beware Economists Bearing Gifts

Influential historian of economics and science, Philip Mirowski will give the Brown and Haley Lectures next week. Known as a dramatic and energetic speaker, Mirowski will deliver two lectures at Puget Sound
Thursday March 1: We Have Not Always Been 'Modern'
Friday March 2: Beware of Economists Bearing Gifts of Knowledge
Both take place in Kilworth Chapel at 7.30 PM.
Mirowski, who holds the Carl Koch Professorship of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of several acclaimed books. In his groundbreaking More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social Physics; Physics as Nature's Economics (1989), Mirowski challenged the prevailing assumptions about the history of neoclassical economics by showing how it was cut from the cloth of 19th century physics.
Mirowski is a radical intellectual, that is, someone who self-consciously seeks to get at the roots of ideas and assumptions. In his essay "Confessions of an Aging Enfant Terrible," Mirowski explains:
[W]hen I read a particular economist's advocacy of regarding children as consumer goods, or another insists that Third World countries should be dumping grounds for toxic industrial wastes since life is cheap there, or a third proclaims that no sound economist would oppose NAFTA….I do not view this as an occasion to dispute the validity of….their "models"; rather, for me, it is a clarion call to excavate the archeology of knowledge that allows such statements to pass muster, as a prelude to understanding what moral presuppositions I must evidently hold, given that I find them deeply disturbing.
More Heat Than Light opened up the channels of communication between science studies and the history of economics. Mirowski's recent books—for example, Machine Dreams: Economics becomes a Cyborg Science and the forthcoming ScienceMart™: Understanding the Era of Globalized Commercialized Science—have continued to explore the intersections of the natural sciences and economics.

No comments: