On the Understanding of Economics

George Leef

A recent Pope Center article in which a number of economics professors explained why they find that students comprehend the subject better if they avoid mathematics and focus exclusively on the logic of human action has raised a little dispute on the blog. If a prof disdains mathematizing the study of economics, is he somehow shortchanging the students? Or is it the case that the use of math does nothing to help us understand and explain the discipline? Here are two pertinent articles on that question, one by Murray Rothbard and one by Gene Callahan. Both defend the Austrian School's position that importing math into economics lends a spurious sense of exactitude where, due to the volitional nature of the subject matter (human beings), we don't have it. It also tends to baffle many students.

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