Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Quotes on Mathematical Economics

[Social] sciences are not science in the sense of physical science and cannot attempt to be such without forfeiting their proper nature and function. Insistence on a concretely quantitative economics means the use of statistics of physical magnitudes, whose economic meaning and significance is uncertain and dubious.
- Frank H. Knight

Indeed, the chief point was already seen by those remarkable anticipators of modern economics, the Spanish schoolmen of the 16th century, who emphasized that what they called pretium mathematicum, the mathematical price, depended on so many particular circumstances that it could never be known to man but was known only to God.
- Friedrich von Hayek

[Mathematical economics] gives our results a merely spurious precision. It gives an illusion of knowledge in place of the candid confession of ignorance, vagueness, or uncertainty which is the beginning of wisdom.
- Henry Hazlitt

The most sophisticated fallacy in [neoclassical] economic theory [is] the notion that because certain relationships hold in equilibrium the forced interferences designed to implement these relationships will, in fact, be desirable.
- James Buchanan

I venture to deny (...) the doctrine that Mathematics can be applied to the development of economic truth; (...) unless it can be shown, either that mental feelings admit of being expressed in precise quantitative forms, or, on the other hand, that economic phenomena do not depend upon mental feelings, I am unable to see how this conclusion can be avoided.
- J. E. Cairnes

The mathematical economists disregard the whole theoretical elucidation of the market process and evasively amuse themselves with an auxiliary notion [i.e., equilibrium] employed in its context and devoid of any sense when used outside of this context.
- Ludwig von Mises

Those who think that it would be possible to apply the equations of mathematical economics for making the calculations fail to see that included among the items of which these equations are composed are unknown preference scales belonging to a situation which is unreal and can never be realized in practice.
- Ludwig von Mises

The best readers' guide to the jungle of mathematical economics is to ignore the fancy welter of equations and look for the assumptions underneath. Invariably they are few in number, simple, and wrong.
- Murray Rothbard

We must never let reality be falsified in order to fit the niceties of mathematics.
- Murray Rothbard

Nothing has done more to render modern economic theory a sterile and irrelevant exercise in autoeroticism than its practitioners' obsession with mathematical, general-equilibrium models.
- Robert Higgs

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