March, 2019

Lachmann Practiced Humanomics, Beyond the Dogma of Behaviorism

  • Deirdre McCloskey

    Distinguished Affiliated Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Ludwig Lachmann knew that economists walked on both feet, the quantitative, positivistic one and the qualitative, humanistic one. He was practicing “humanomics” before the word. Decisions about categories are humanistic, as in philosophy, theology, literary study, mathematics (prime number/not), physics (proton/neutron), and economics (monopoly/competition). Then the field measures, if it gets to it. Lachmann understood, for example, that there is a vital distinction between mere reaction to price stimulus (thus De Gustibus) and true, free human action. For example, he was properly hostile to the Northian/Samuelsonian account of institutions as mere rules of the game. And he would have approved of an account of the Great Enrichment 1800 to the present that features language and persuasion and human creativity.