The fallacy of misplaced concreteness
Daly and Cobb analyse four aspects of the faallacy of misplaced concreteness
in economics; in the areas of the market, economic measures, the homo
economicus model, and in the treatment of land.
"[Whitehead] defined it as 'neglecting the degree of abstraction involved
when an actual entity is considered merely so far as it exemplifies certain
categoriesof thought' (1929, p.11). More generally it is the fallacy
invloved whenever thinkers forget the degree of abstraction involved in
thought and draw unwarranted conclusions about concrete actuality."|
(Daly & Cobb, 1990, p.36)
Four aspects of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness in economics
- The Market
- Measuring Economic Success
- Homo Economicus
After extolling the strengths of the market (e.g. its ability to handle
more information than a centrally planned economy), D&C indentify some of its
Three broad problems with the market (D&C, 1990, p.49)
- 1. The tendency for the market of erode its own requirements.
- 1a. the tendency for competition to be self-eliminating
- 1b. the corrosiveness of self-interest on the moral
context of community that is presupposed by the market
- 2. the existence of public goods and externalities
Avoiding the fallacy (D&C, 1990, pp.41-43)
- 1. Getting back to the concrete (e.g. through notions of
- 2. By avoiding excessive professional specialization.
Links at this site...
Links at other sites...
Last modified 30/9/01