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May 30, 2007


Barkley  Rosser

Since I am not part of the official debate and am not signed up to read it, I shall offer a comment that is deeply related to some of the issues involved. This comes from my book with David Colander and Richard P.F. Holt, The Changing Face of Economics: Conversations with Cutting Edge Economists, 2004, University of Michigan Press, pbk.

So, we distinguished between "orthodox," "mainstream," and "heterodox." The former we argue is a purely intellectual category. The current, or recent, orthodoxy has been labeled "neoclassical economics," although there are some serious problems with that label.

"Mainstream" is a sociological category, basically those in charge of the commanding heights of the profession.

"Heterodox" is both, intellectually anti-orthodox and also alienated from the dominant mainstream.

This allows for the possibility of a non-orthodox mainstream. George Akerlof would be a good example.

We also argue that the worst repression of the heterodox comes from lower tier mainstreamers who defend orthodoxy, such as at Notre Dame, where leading mainstreamers such as Solow were defending the department.

The cutting edge itself tends to be on the boundary of the heterodox and the mainstream sociologically, but clearly outside of orthodoxy intellectually.


Prof. Rosser, please do not take you're not being invited to contribute as an invitation not too. I think it's safe to say that all or most of the parties involved are familiar with you, respect you & would definitely welcome your contribution to the discussion, being the all purpose Heterodox Economist.

There has already been someone who has refereed for many of the top Econ Journals, contributing in the comments section that much "Heterodox" work sent for mainstream publication is of poor quality. If you have something useful to add, please do so. The discussions are going on at Crooked Timber also.

P.S. There is a critical review of a book dealing with the "Post-Autistic" economics movement circulating that was written by Herbert Gintis, one of the subjects of your "Changing Face of Economics" book. It's linked from Tyler Cowen's page. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Barkley Rosser

Well, I have been commenting on this debate on both maxspeak, where I co-blog with Max Sawicky, and also on Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution, where I was the one who got the guy who was anonmously bashing the heterodox, "Commenterlein," to defend his anonymity, for which Max has roasted him big time.

Regarding Herb's book review, I agree that some of what is said by the pae group is not always of the highest quality or accuracy. Herb is especially incensed at Guerrien's mischaracterization of game theory, and Herb is the author of the highly respected Princeton University Press book, Game Theory Evolving.

BTW, he is one of the people interviewed in the Colander, Holt, Rosser volume, and it is one of the most provocative interviews in the book. He emphasizes being scientific, in contrast to the post-modern Marxists at U-Mass-Amherst such as Wolff and Resnick, and does not like being labeled "heterodox," preferring "homodox."

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