1. Have you read Heinrich Pesch? He was certainly well versed in economic theory. Although my own education (undergraduate and graduate) was mostly in literature and philosophy, I went back some years ago and took the basic micro and macro neoclassical economics courses. Someone might say that I should have gone beyond the basic courses. I don’t think this was necessary, for essentially they involve manipulation of flawed theories to ever more specialized subjects. It’s necessary, I agree, to have a grasp of what they’re up to, but it’s not necessary to be able to apply with facility their theory to any particular part of economic conduct, because it’s a flawed theory from the getgo.

    One difficulty here is that I think neoclassical economic theory is an extreme example of the sort of thing Thomas Kuhn (and C. S. Lewis) talks about, a theory which ignores a great deal of reality in order to be able to deal with what it wants to deal with in mathematical fashion. So if, say, Pesch, doesn’t have a lot of graphs in the Lehrbuch, some will say that his economic theory is underdeveloped, or undertheoretical or whatever. But that’s to take contemporary neoclassical theory as the gold standard, and I do not see why we should do this. To do so shows not only a lack of acquaintance with the history of economic thought, but with the history of science as well.

    1. I agree with you that we should not take neoclassical economics as the gold standard. However, I do think we have to be conversant enough in mainstream economics to be able to first identity what these economists and their epigones are saying; and second, to be able to better see the flaws in their theories and refute them.

      Intra-disciplinary debates over the use of mathematical models, graphs, the predictive power of economics as a whole, and so forth are also useful to know, again for the same reasons noted above. Internal criticism within the field of economics does provide some useful tools for those of us who wish to see political economy repositioned in its proper place and oriented toward the common good.

      What I am opposed to is this sort of knee-jerk dismissal of economics as a whole. Even though it is riddled with problems and the normative side of things even more so, it still behooves us to, well, “know what we are talking about” when we critique it.

  2. “Even though it is riddled with problems and the normative side of things even more so, it still behooves us to, well, “know what we are talking about” when we critique it.”

    Yes, I certainly agree with this.

  3. Hello Mr Sanchez,

    Is there a piece of work you can guide me to that can provide a quick grasp both of the neoclassical economic theories and the church’s approach/principles? I tend to think of myself as a fairly informed catholic but I never know what to do with the economics part ie social doctrine of the church. I guess that’s because I do not understand it at all. I know we should not steal, that we ought to take care of the poor, that we should not support the injustices of the world like abortion et al, and that we should obey the law but only as long it does not require us to disobey God. The rest….honestly is Greek! I know communism was bad because it was anti-God and because it made the individual disappear. It was all about the state. But when it comes to the other things…socialism as it is in many European states for example, or capitalism, I just don’t know what is supposed to be bad short of a clear contradiction of our catechism.

    Another question: is Pope Francis orthodox when it comes to the social doctrine? He emphasizes care for the poor which is unambiguously the command of Christ but I heard some people claim he is influenced by latin American liberation theology which was condemned by St. Pope John Paul II. What do you think?

    Best, Kate.

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