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                    In this issue:
                    - Deirdre McCloskey,  Books of Oomph
Tony Lawson,  Back to Reality
                    - Geoff Harcourt,  A Good Servant but a Bad Master
                    Joseph HaleviThree Observations on a "Cultural Revival" 
                    - Sheila C Dow,  The Relevance of Controversies
                    - Kurt Jacobsen,  Revolt in Political Science

Books of Oomph
Deirdre McCloskey   (University of Illinois at Chicago and Erasums Universiteit Rotterdam)

I think the best way for you to grasp what upsets me so much about modern economics is

for you to read a little bit in other fields of the intellect.  After looking into scientific history

or paleoanthropology or literary criticism or Latin literature or astrophysics I’ll bet you’ll join

me in being upset about the scientific deadend that economics has wandered into. 

Seriously, stomach-wrenchingly upset.  You and I can go together to the gastroenterologist

and get some pills.  

The first indigestion-producing book I read last year is Jered Diamond’s Guns, Germs and
Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years.
  Diamond is, of all things
not qualifying one to write the economic history of the world since the last Ice Age, a
professor of physiology at a medical school.  He’s an evolutionary biologist, trained as
(of all things) a botanist.  The economic historian Joel Mokyr told me that he approached
Diamond’s book on page 1 the same way I did: “Who’s this fool?  He’s claiming to talk
about economic history.  I’m the expert in economic history around here.”  Joel says that
by page 50 he was converted.  It took me only 20 pages, which just shows that Joel has
higher intellectual standards than I do.

Diamond argues that the reason Europe ended up so powerful is that it was the inheritor
of a biological accident—that plant and animal species, only a small percentage of which
prove suitable for domestication, are especially numerous in the great east-west swath of
land from China to Spain.  And that’s why the middle of the swath—
the first to get socially organized in a big way.  The north-south places, such as
Africa and
America, were broken up by ecological barriers to spread of cows, wheat, that sort of thing
Isthmus of Panama, for example, and anyway the barrier arising from varied growing
conditions by latitude. 

Interesting.  But my point here is that in making his arguments Diamond does science. 
He doesn’t do what economists, without acquaintance with any alleged science but their
persist in imagining is science.  Diamond is not big on phony, existence-theorem
math or phony, significance-testing statistics.  (The temptation to be so must be
considerable, since the neighboring field of population biology, like economics, is in love
with the cargo-cult techniques perfected after World War II, axiomatic and significance-test
game playing: autistic economics.)  He is big on quantitative arguments based on factual
matter, arguments that have oomph.  

For example in arguing the case for New Guinea as a test of how important food
production is in causing societies to flourish he uses new linguistic evidence on the
origins of Micronesian and Polynesian languages, such as their crop vocabularies.  The
philosopher of history R. G. Collingwood, himself a historian of Roman Britain, once
defined “scientific” history (by contrast with “scissors-and-paste” history) as studying
problems, not periods, asking questions about the world and seeing ones way to
answering them
.  He notes that a scientist is neither a theorist-philosopher speculating
about whether an endogenous-growth model has equilibrium solutions under assumptions
x, y, or z nor a scissors-and-paste econometrician rummaging in bad data for significant
coefficients.  She is on the contrary a maker of testable arguments about real worlds,
like a detective.

Diamond does science, I say.  He’s a detective.  At a session of the Economic History
Association last year in
Los Angeles I heard him talk about his book.  After Diamond
spoke, our own Jeff Sachs gave a similar presentation of his new ideas about geography
and underdevelopment.  Sachs, like Diamond, is a detective, a scientist.  So can we all
be, if we’ll stop spending our valuable time on the non-scientific talk about things
“existing.”  (So I commend the French students in open revolution against Cartesian-
Samuelsonian-Arrovian economics; Aux barricades!)

Or take a professor of English, Jane Tompkins, in her elegant book on the genre of the
western in American literature, West of Everything.  What?  An English professor?  Surely
they (or I should say “we”) aren’t “scientists”!  Well, Tompkins is.  She’s a Collingwoodian
detective.  She asks a question about the world and sees her way to answering it.  Why is
it, she asks, that the western was invented rather suddenly by Owen Wister in 1902 (The
), became immensely popular in novels read mainly by men (Zane Grey), and then
popular with everybody in the movies (my multilinguistic Dutch friends find just hilarious the
dubbing of John Wayne in the German TV stations)? 

And then why rather suddenly in the 1970s did it die?  Why are women characters so
clueless in Westerns?  Why is talking so devalued?  Why are horses and cattle ubiquitous
but so strangely neglected (considering that the business of these lads was supposed to
be animal husbandry)?  Indians, too (considering that their other business was supposed to
be killing them)?  And then for the answer she marshals the detective’s case (the hardboiled
detective story, by the way, has a similar history).  The western (and detective story), she
argues, and shows, and illustrates, and tests beyond reasonable doubt, were reactions to
the feminization of American culture in the 19th century.  The anxiety about Women Stuff
(religion, for example) that her father’s and grandfather’s generation (I should say our fathers’
and grandfathers’ generation) felt could be assuaged by basking in High Noon

Observe that Diamond is “just” a botanist and Tompkins is “just” an English professor. 
Not physicists.  Not mathematicians.  Not a significance test in hundreds and hundreds
of well-written pages (not that physicists use those: my students and I have shown by
examining the magazine Science that it is only economists and population biologists and
medical scientists who misuse statistical significance).  Not a theorem in sight (not that
the physicists care about theorems).  Yet both Diamond and Tompkins are really serious
about knowing things about the world.  So the issue is not “science vs. the humanities” or
some other British simpleton’s philosophy of knowledge.  What we seek is science in the
usual French sense, “inquiry.”

Get with it, oh my beloved fellow economists.  Read, and get that queasy feeling in the pit
of your stomach.  Read the linguist Merritt Ruhlen’s The Origin of Language.  Read the
literary critic Stanley Fish’s Surprised by Sin.  Read, and compare what these scientists
do in discussing language families and
Milton’s epic poems with the pseudo-science that
makes nonsense of even the best articles in our splendid field.  And if your stomach really
comes to bothers you, get Howard Spiro’s great book, Clinical Gastroenterology, beautifully
written (about bowels), steadily quantitative (about ulcers), a detective’s guide to gut science.



Back to Reality
Tony Lawson (Cambridge University)
            [Excerpts from this essay appeared in Le Monde, 27 March2001]

In recent months a number of French students, joined by some of their lecturers, have
initiated a debate on the state of modern economics. The debate turns on the question of
which research methods are appropriate for the investigation of economic reality. As so
often in the past, a French debate has provoked an international response. Because of
the importance of this debate to the future of economics it is essential to be clear about
what is at issue, especially in these pages where the debate began.

Simply put, the message from the students is that there is insufficient pluralism in the
modern economics faculty. In particular, there is a widespread insistence on the use
of just one set of methods: those of mathematical modelling.

A standard response to this observation, one which is also found in recent pages of Le
, and the one I would like to address here, and is that this emphasis is unavoidable
just because economics needs to be scientific, where being scientific necessitates the
use of mathematics.

When stated as starkly as this I think it will be seen that the response is inadequate.
Most clearly it begs the question as to why economics needs to be scientific. But
actually, its central deficiency is to presume unquestioningly that a science necessarily
uses mathematics. Such a presumption is false. What is more, a little reflection on
the nature of natural science suggests that there is every reason to suppose that even
an economics almost devoid of mathematics can yet be scientific in the sense of natural
science. Thus the heading in Le Monde of
31/10/2000: “Les mathématiques, condition
nécessaire mais pas suffisante aux sciences économiques” is actually quite wrong. Let
me briefly elaborate.

I take it we all agree with the French students that illuminating social reality is the
primary objective. Certainly, I find few, if any, commentators rejecting this goal explicitly.
The point here is that mathematical methods of the sort used by economists are
(as with any methods) useful to the task of illuminating reality only under certain
conditions. Specifically, the usefulness of the sorts of mathematical procedures in
question is restricted to systems in which event regularities(deterministic or probabilistic)
occur. Thus for those who suppose that science means using mathematics, the assertion
that economics can and ought to be scientific is, in effect, a claim that event regularities
prevail in the social realm.

MauriceAllais, one of France’s great economists, has formulated this claim explicitly
when he writes:
The essential condition of any science is the existence of regularities which can be
analysed and forecast. This is the case in celestial mechanics. But it is also true of
many economic phenomena. Indeed, their thorough analysis displays the existence of
regularities which are just as striking as those found in the physical sciences. This is
why economics is a science, and why this science rests on the same general principles
methods of physics”
(Allais, 1992, p.25).

But Allais is actually quite wrong in both aspects of his claim. Econometricians
repeatedly find that their supposed correlations are no sooner reported than they are
found to break down; social event regularities of the requisite sort are hard to come by.
And, more to the point, it is just not the case that event regularities are essential to
science. Let me defend this claim.

Actually, although the successes of natural science are widespread, event regularities of
the requisite sort are rather rare even in the natural realm; out side celestial mechanics
they are mostly restricted to situations of well-controlled experiment. Furthermore, most
of the results of well-controlled experiments are successfully applied outside the
controlled experiment where event regularities are not at all in evidence.

We can make sense of these observations only by realising that the aim of the controlled
experiment, and of science more generally, is not the production of an event-regularity per
, but the identification of an underlying mechanism that can account for it. Gravitational
forces may give rise to an event regularity in an experimental vacuum, but gravitational
forces continue to act on autumn leaves wherever the latter may fly, and help us to send
rockets to the moon.

It is an understanding of the mechanism not the production of an event regularity that is
the essential goal here. The controlled experiment constitutes a human intervention
aimed not at producing an event regularity for its own sake but at empirically identifying
(or testing a theory about) an underlying mechanism.

Medical researchers are not interested in correlating the temperature of a patient with
the intensity or location of spots on the patient’s body, but with identifying (and
counteracting) the virus or cause behind the symptoms.

In short, if there is a unifying feature of (pure)science, it is the search for causes behind
phenomena regarded as of interest. If there is an essential component common to all
successful science it is this movement from phenomena at one level to their explanation
in terms of causes lying at a deeper one. Mathematics is useful in the few (typically
experimental) cases where surface phenomena are correlated. But science goes about
its work of uncovering causes even where correlations in surface phenomena are not to
be found.

So science is quite feasible in economics. It entails identifying the causes of phenomena
of concern, say of high levels of unemployment or poverty. If mathematical methods are
useful to this process, then so much the better. The central point, though, is to recognise
that, whether or not they are useful, mathematical modelling methods are not necessary
for any research process to qualify as being scientific in the sense of natural science.
Cambridge colleague Professor Amartya Sen was correct when recently in Le Monde
31/10/2000) he observed that mathematics is not a unique foundation of economic
science. In fact it is not a foundation of economics-as-science at all.

Actually, it is my own view that we can go further than this. We have good reason to
suppose that the scope of relevance of mathematics is very limited indeed in the social
realm. For example, it can be demonstrated that not only the poor success rate of
modern economics, but also the phenomenon of modern economists repeatedly making
assumptions known to be wildly false, are due to mathematical methods being
employed where they do not fit. These are amongst the assessments I defend at length
in Economics and Reality (Lawson,1997). But they not essential to the points being
made by the French students, and I put them aside here. The students’ “complaint” is
only that, in modern academic economics departments, mathematical modelling is
pursued for its own sake. They argue, and I agree, that we should start with (or at least
not neglect insights concerning) the nature of reality. The point is not to reject
mathematical methods a priori, but to use such methods as and when appropriate.

One final point. I have set out a conception of science that some will contest. It is
possible indeed that it will prove inadequate. Or time may show that my pessimism
about the relevance of mathematical modelling for economics is unfounded. All
knowledge is fallible, after all. But to recognise that any argument or claim can
turn out to be wrong is to acknowledge, at the same time, a need for a
non-dogmatic, indeed more pluralistic, approach in the academy.

This, of course, is just the first and most fundamental point of those of us who are
unhappy with the state of modern economics. The objective is not to replace one dogma
by another. Certainly it is not an a priorir ejection of the use of mathematics in
economics. Even less is it a rejection of the possibility of economics as science.
And nor is anyone suggesting an abandonment of standards of rigour in the return to
relevance. Rather, the goal is simply to open up the economics academy to a more
intellectual orientation, allowing, in particular, the combining of high standards of
research with a return to variety and greater(albeit critically informed) pluralism in method.

Allais, M. (1992) "The Economic Science of Today and Global Disequilibrium", in Baldassarri M. et. al
Global Disequilibrium in the World Economy,
Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Lawson, T.,(1997) Economics and Reality, London: Routledge.



A Good Servant but a Bad Master
Geoff Harcourt (Cambridge University)

Edward Fullbrook has asked me to contribute to the post-autistic economics
newsletter. Since he also told me that my after-dinner speech to the social
economists meeting at
Cambridge last year was the irritant that led him as
the oyster to create this particular pearl of a newsletter, what else could
I do but oblige? More importantly, I want to contribute something positive
and useful to the ongoing debate in
France (and, I hope, elsewhere) on the
teaching and scope of economics.

First, the vexed question of mathematics. This is a red herring. My own
stance was influenced by Keynes. He argued that in a subject like
economics, there is a spectrum of appropriate languages, running from
intuition and poetry through lawyer-like arguments to formal logic and
mathematics. All have a role, depending upon the issue, or the aspects of
an issue, being discussed. Mathematics is a good servant but a bad master,
that is to say, always pose the economics of an issue first, then see
whether some form of mathematics may be of use in solving the problems
thrown up. This approach also has the blessing of von Neumann, Michal
Kalecki and Josef Steindl, a worthy Trinity if ever there were one.

Secondly, as a liberal educator, I think teachers have a duty to introduce
students to different approaches to economic issues, whether they are in
agreement with the approaches or not. A sympathetically critical stance
seems to me the least a university teacher can and should take. So I
deplore the ruthless hegemony of the mainstream, in too many departments
around the world, so that clones of the leading mainstream departments in
USA are being created all over the world. Of course, students should be
introduced to what the up to date mainstream approaches and issues are, but
not exclusively. After all, as economists we know of comparative advantage
and differentiated products and to forego these principles in our teaching
is both foolish and restrictive. I deplore the existence of zealots in any
approach; there are, I fear, too many of them in our trade at the moment.

Thirdly, the failure to teach the history of the subject and economic
history is to misunderstand the essential nature of our discipline. Often
the same issues and problems arise and then it will be found that the greats
of the past had something of lasting value to say about them. It is not an
insult to the greats sometimes to restate their insights in modern terms,
provided we are explicitly aware of where and who the essential insights
have come from, and that they are a product of their time, place and the
personality of the writers concerned. Because economics too often is taught
as though the subject has had but a ten year existence (with a moving peg),
again too often inferior versions of older wheels are rediscovered.

Finally, let me put in a plea to students always to be careful not to regard
something as irrelevant or uninteresting because it is difficult. To do so
is to allow the tough zealots who dominate the trade to have too easy and
unnecessary a victory over proper and reasonable demands.



Three Observations on a "Cultural Revival" in France
Joseph Halevi (University of Sidney)

In March 1999, after a two year stay, I left France with a rather pessimistic view. It
seemed then that on the intellectual plane, barring some isolated individuals, Pierre
Bourdieu and his network, flanked by Le Monde Diplomatique, acted as the only
significant critical force. To day there are reasons for being far more optimistic on both
the political and intellectual fronts. The students’ movement for the transformation of the
economic curriculum towards a pluralistic vision of the discipline, is not just part of this
cultural revival, but, because it is expressed at a national level, it represents a more
advanced step in challenging the ruling orthodoxy. In this context let me make three

The first concerns the accusation thrown at the students of being mathematical nihilists.
It is false and deliberately misleading. This accusation has come from a number of
quarters, with LeMonde contributing to propagandise it. Alan Kirman - an Englishman
teaching at Aix-Marseille - and a tough minded guardian of the quality of science at the
economic section of the National Council of the Universities (
CNU) [1], repeated it in the
Newsletter of the Royal Economic Society earlier this year. Those who started the
movement saw quite clearly through the various formalisms. The issues they raised were
aimed at both the lack of economic content and at the absence of any contextualiation of
the models they have to swallow. More specifically the students’ conceptual awareness
owes a great deal to the books written and to the lectures given by Bernard Guerrien, an
outstanding mathematical economist from
Paris 1-Sorbonne, who has been pointing out
since 1989 the economic non sequitur embroiling dominant neoclassical theory [2]. The
issue of the lack of historical perspectives in the current economics programs has
emerged in a number of open debates held throughout
France’s universities (In Montpellier
the debate held on March 16 drew 400 students).

If current neoclassical macroeconomics is the ideology for economic policies, microeconomics
is the hard core theology of contemporary orthodoxy. Significantly, in a debate held on April
10 at the Université de Paris X at
Nanterre there was no support for the way in which
microeconomics is being taught. It seems also that the micro-macro division is being
abolished at
Paris 1-Sorbonne in favour of a curriculum oriented towards a historical view of
economic theories.

The second observation relates to Solow’s imperialistic point that the students are reacting
to bad teaching. Quite the contrary. French textbooks, when they do not copy the American
ones, are more coherent than their
US counterpart. For instance, most American
macroeconomic texts, such as Olivier Blanchard’s Macroeconomics(Prentice Hall, 1997),
misdirect the students by presenting their material as if it emerged from accurate
observations and give an extremely shallow account of the theories and their evolution. Thus
the bad teaching occurs on Solow’s very turf, and French academics should free themselves
from their never ending inferiority complex vis à vis the
United States and, via the US, the
English-speaking world

Finally, from the debates held so far it seems that the issue of realism will become a
point of contention. At
Nanterre, for instance, a prominent academic argued that since
facts are created by the theorist (which is essentially true), reality does not exist
(totally wrong, the question is which reality?). Unfortunately confronted with these
statements Solow would have an easy win and the shallowness of his buddy’s textbook
would carry the day.

[1] The CNU approves/rejects hirings and promotions whenever they fall outside the nation wide bid
(concours) for professorships set by the Ministry of National Education. Two-thirds of the members of the
are elected on the basis of union-like tickets. One third are nominated by the Government usually from
existing tickets. Alan Kirman is a recent non-elected appointee to the
CNU for the ticket qualité de la science.
[2] Bernard Guerrien Concurrence, flexibilité etstabilité,
Paris: Economica,1989. This book has been
followed by a number of others of exemplarydidactic clarity such as, la Théorie économique néoclassique,
2 tomes,
Paris: la Découverte, 1999.







The Relevance of Controversies for Practice as Well as Teaching
Sheila C Dow  (University of Stirling)

One of the important PAE arguments put forward by Raveaud in the March 2001
Newsletter (‘Teaching Economics Through Controversies’) is that economics should be
taught in terms of controversies instead of as an agreed body of thought. In effect this
means teaching the dynamic development of ideas over time, i.e., a historical approach,
since controversies involve sequential developments. If theory is context-dependent, then
we can learn much, not only from controversies among contemporaries in different contexts,
but also from controversies between economists working within different contexts in history.
Controversies reveal a range of possible ways of theorising about the economy, drawing out
the different understandings of the subject matter, the different meanings attached to the
same terms and the different methodologies employed. By getting a sense of the range of
possibilities, students can develop the capacity for judgement necessary for deciding how
best to develop theory to address future contexts. 

But what is the role of controversy for the practising economist? It is perhaps helpful to think
of controversy in terms of Kuhn’s paradigm framework. Each paradigm is pursued by a
community of economists who share foundations, in terms of understanding of reality,
meaning of terms, methodological approach, and so on. There is considerable scope for
controversy between paradigms in that each will approach similar problems quite differently.
There is also much scope for talking at cross purposes, since the nature of the problem
may be understood quite differently, similar methods may be part of very different
methodologies, and similar terms may have very different meanings. In other words,
paradigms are incommensurate; there is no neutral ground on which to stand. Kuhn made 
of agreed methods within the paradigm. The significant controversies are the province of
extraordinary science, which puts the focus on the foundations of paradigms. 

If most economists are likely to engage in normal science, then, what is the relevance of
controversies which refer to fundamentals? First, the Kuhnian framework is helpful for
putting the focus on the scope for incommensurability between paradigms, but requires
careful consideration when applied to a discipline like economics where there are
coexisting paradigms. Kuhn’s framework originally referred to the physical sciences,
in terms of succeeding paradigms. In economics the paradigms have never been mutually-
exclusive; it has simply been helpful to think in terms of the clear differences between
‘representative members’ of different paradigms. Increasingly there are efforts to promote
synthesis, particularly between heterodox paradigms, thus blurring the distinctions.
Synthesis of course means the emergence of new paradigms, but the picture of what will
emerge is not yet clear. Within orthodox economics also there have been developments
which call attention to fundamentals; but here the developments are more ones of
fragmentation than synthesis. 

In the current state of flux in economics, therefore, extraordinary science comes to the
fore. In order to make sense of these processes of synthesis and fragmentation, it is
important to be aware of the foundations of new theory developments. Indeed it could be
argued that those developments in economic theory which have proved pivotal have arisen
at the margins of paradigms, within extraordinary science. New developments in thought
can always be traced back to some extent to previous history of thought (within some
paradigm), but at the same time require new connections to be made and new meanings
to be employed. A prerequisite for such a development is exposure to different possible
approaches. This is an argument for methodological awareness, which can be most
effectively acquired through engagement with controversies past and present. Without
such awareness, which promotes alertness to differences in understanding, methodology
and meaning, the different protagonists in controversies will be misunderstood and
opportunities for new connections lost. As James Galbraith points out in his contribution
to the January 2001 Newsletter, there is a notable lack of awareness within orthodox
economics of the challenges it faces.

The argument for methodological awareness as a prerequisite for engagement has most
force in periods, such as the present, when economics is in a particular state of flux.
But what about more stable periods? Methodological awareness can be promoted by
study of past controversies. But there is a second case for methodological awareness
which is different, in that it rests more heavily on the benefits of tolerance. Tolerance
means allowing a range of approaches to develop to maturity, so that, when new challenges
arise, there is a diversity from which ideas may be selected (just as in biology diversity is
important for adaptation and survival). When a discipline is stable, there is a danger of
thinking of the dominant paradigm as being not just preferred by the majority, but as being
preferable in some absolute, extra-paradigmatic, sense. Such a state of affairs can breed
intolerance to any other paradigm. Not only does this limit the scope of the dominant
paradigm, but also it encourages institutionalised constraints on alternative paradigms.
There is further an asymmetry in that paradigms which adopt a methodology unified around
mathematical formalism applied to a shared set of axioms (as in orthodox economics) are
more likely to have a closed-system theory of knowledge than paradigms which embrace
some form of pluralism. But without some prior knowledge of pluralism it is hard to see how
the judgement in favour of a monist (i.e., anti-pluralist) methodology can be justified. It is a
matter of choice as to the methodology we employ in order to understand a complex reality.
No one methodology can reasonably claim any absolute superiority, yet choices have to be
made for policy issues to be addressed. But no one approach can be justified relative to
the others without an informed comparison.

We have come back full circle to the value of a pluralist education in economics.







The following article describes an important off-shoot of the pae movement in the
United States. There are tactical lessons to be learnt from its quick success.
Various documents relating to these events, including a long article from the
New York
Times, have been On the home page, click on
The Perestroika Movement.

Revolt in Political Science
Kurt Jacobsen  (University of Chicago

In the United States the post-autistic economics movement has reverberated most
powerfully in political science departments. There, as in economics, it increasingly is the
pure elegance and artificial neatness of models, not their relation to real world activities,
reap the greatest rewards. Every other kind of scholar - and there still are many
kinds - has gotten the disturbingly clear message that there is one right way and they
need not apply. There was ample tinder for a spark to ignite.

One might imagine that the American Political Science Association preaches that the
best governing system, despite all its faults, is a democratic one, but APSA luminaries
obviously display grave doubts as to how far democracy ought to be allowed to go. From
inception the Association never entertained the wildly radical notion of conducting internal
elections. What rules is a cozy arrangement whereby a committee chosen by the
president nominates its successor members who picks the next governing council who
pick the next president, and so on. Disgruntled political scientists link the absence of
democracy in the organization to the suffocating disciplinary dominance, especially in
the last decade, of formal models and rational choice theory.

Rational choice theory derives from neo-classical economics, which ambitious political
scientists notice grabs lots of Nobel Prizes. The theory deploys a set of assumptions about
behaviour that boil down complicated lives and societies to prioritised "rational" choices in
any given situation. In short, political science is sanctifying a chalkboard universe inhabited
by "homo economicus,:" which, in the name of utility maximization, tries to erase all trace
of culture, history, personality or any quirky quality that might smudge the one size fits all 
model. Rational choice undeniably has its merits when used with a bit of humility,
especially in studies of collective action. For many scholars, however, it dangles the
tantalising appearance of a skeleton key to open everything, although ensuing explanations,
critics find are usually trivial, obvious or require psychiatric treatment to restore contact with

Rational choice modelers quickly became notorious in political science for forming potent
coteries, partly because they wield a common catechism. The APSA of late has been run
by rational choice exponents or sympathizers and its flagship journal, the American
Political Science Review, reflects their unbending bent. Dissidents complain that rational
choice modelers cannot admit that equations are metaphors as much as any literary
image deployed by a supposedly "soft" social scientist. Giandomenico Majone, a
mathematically trained political scientist who lectures in the
US and Europe, suggests
the problem lies less with formal models than the excesses of undereducated enthusiasts:
"You should know more than the tool you use." Indeed.

The revolt erupted last November with a mass e-mailing by "Mr. Perestroika" - probably a
junior faculty aware of French events - who excoriated "poor game-theorists who cannot
for the life of me compete with a third grade economics student " yet crush the "diversity
of methodologies and areas of the world that APSA 'purports' to represent." (Perestroika,
according to its - ahem - original sponsors, promoted the "vital creativity" of society's
members; development of democracy, "initiative and independence" and "the widening of
criticism and self-criticism in all spheres of social life.") In a month a two-tiered movement
of insurgents crystallized, divided between those who could and could not afford to reveal
their identities. By January 222 senior faculty, including 24 named chairs, signed a reform
petition, drafted by Yale professor Rogers Smith. "It is about getting pluralism back into
political science," said Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, Distinguished Service Professor at
Chicago University. "Why does the [Association and the Journal] seem so intensely
focused on technical methods at the expense of the great substantive political questions?"

In response APSR editor Ada Finifter (since succeeded by Lee Seligman) asserted that all
was well so long as scholars provided "high-quality work using methods appropriate to the
research problem." Finifter categorized work outside formal methods as "interpretive" -
clearly second class citizens. Perestroikan Greg Kasza of
Indiana university beheld the
logic: "One scholar works inductively from diverse sources of empirical data to develop a
qualified middle theory of how some aspect of politics has worked in particular conditions.
His work is 'interpretive.' Another posits assumptions about human behavior observed
nowhere and deduces from them a grand scheme of theoretical axioms. She is providing
us with 'systematic and reliable knowledge'? About what? If the former is 'interpretive,'
might we call the latter "imaginary"?"

Still, a conciliatory APSA just selected a Perestroika-backed candidate as President,
Harvard's Theda Skocpol. Dissidents hope Skocpol will help carry out, as Mr. Perestroika
put it, a "dismantling of the Orwellian system that we have in the APSA." Meanwhile, they
are publicizing their cause, recruiting sympathizers and working out an agenda. It speaks
volumes that young scholars fear to reveal their identities in a profession that purports to
prize vigorous and open exchange. APSA deputy director Robert Hauck, presumably a
student of the way power actually works, expressed surprise that anyone needed to shield
themselves. New APSA Council nominee James Scott of
Yale University vows to push
the perestroika platform.

Perestroikans agree that the scholarly objective is "high-quality work using methods
appropriate to the research problem," but echo the pae movement in arguing that "the
problem dictates the method," not vice versa. Perestroikans also aim to improve
democracy outside their profession. These increasingly otherworldly methods "in the
social sciences make it difficult to communicate with and make our work relevant to the
wider public," argues
Chicago University politics professor of politics Lloyd Rudolph. "We
have to know and live with differences within our profession as well as in the world."

The next issue will feature a Special Report on the year's events in


EDITOR: Edward Fullbrook
CORRESPONDENTS: Argentina: Iserino;  Australia: Joseph Halevi, Steve Keen:  Brazil: Wagner Leal Arienti;
France: Gilles Raveaud, Olivier Vaury; J. Walter Plinge;  Germany; Helge Peukert;  Japan: Susumu Takenaga;
India: Nitasha Kaul;  Spain: Jorge Fabra;  United Kingdom: Michael Murphy;  United States: Benjamin Balak,
Daniel Lien, Paul Surlis:  At large: Paddy Quick

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