Friday, June 22, 2012

A Sociological Argument for the Validity of ABCT

The validity of any given theory is often thought to be dependent on: 1) its logical coherence, i.e., its derivation from self-evident axioms and its construction according to the proper rules of logical deduction, and 2) its correspondence with the facts of reality.

The Austrian Business Cycle Theory (hereafter ABCT) is well-renowned for the emphasis it attaches to logical precision of the arguments, axioms, and deductions it is built on, and its predictive track record is unparalleled as compared with the so-called "mainstream" theories of the same phenomenon (see here and here).

Hence, one would have thought that ABCT merits the closest examination and intellectual scrutiny in the standard academic forum of peer-reviewed journals. It is the case, however, that it receives practically no attention in the journals which are not themselves Austrian-oriented. The attention from those prominent "mainstream" academics that it did manage to generate manifested itself in the form of popular articles and blog entries (see here, here, here, and here), all of which contain a poorly researched, strawman version of the theory they aim to criticize (as evidenced here).

In view of the above, only two conclusions suggest themselves: either the abovementioned academics are poor scholars in the sense of lacking the requisite intellectual skills to understand and critically evaluate ABCT in a professional manner, or they are poor scholars in the sense of lacking the requisite intellectual integrity, i.e., they do not even try to understand the theory in question, or they do understand it, but choose to willfully mischaracterize it.

Now, if either of the above conclusions is correct, then, given the fact that the exponents of ABCT do devote a lot of space in their peer-reviewed journals (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here) to a thorough intellectual examination of the theories and arguments of their intellectual opponents (even thought the latters' respect for the precision of logical deduction and their predictive track record compare unfavourably to those of the ABCT theorists), it has to be assumed that the exponents of ABCT are better scholars (in both of the dimensions listed above) than their "mainstream" counterparts.

And since, by definition, better scholars produce better theories, it has to be concluded that the preceding considerations of the sociology of academia make it more likely that it is ABCT rather than any of its "mainstream" alternatives that provides the correct explanation and analysis of the phenomenon of business cycles.

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