September, 2003

Man as Machine: The Plight of 20th Century Economics - Working Paper

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
Key materials
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Economics in the 20th century proceeded as if it didn't matter that the subject matter was human actors. Lightening was not due to the anger of the gods, but was a result of physical properties. The purging of anthropomorphism was appropriate in the physical sciences. But the purge of man from the human sciences results in the abolition of its subject matter. The human element is eliminated and a utility machine takes the place of man. Economists developed a theory of the machine economy, but lost complete sight of the human economy. This working paper analyzes four competing visions in economic thinking that typify the 20th century.