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Die Himmel über uns: Über die Bedeutung des Gleichgewichts für die Wirtschaftswissenschaft

Freeman, Alan (2006): Die Himmel über uns: Über die Bedeutung des Gleichgewichts für die Wirtschaftswissenschaft. Published in: EXIT! Krise und Kritik der Warengesellschaft No. 3 (2006): pp. 212-241.

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Abstract

This article was published in Freeman, Alan (2006): Die Himmel über uns. Über die Bedeutung des Gleichgewichts für die Wirtschaftswissenschaft, EXIT! Krise und Kritik der Warengesellschaft 3, 212-241

It is the German translation of an chapter originally published in Mosini, V (ed) (2007) Equilibrium in Economics: Scope and Limits. London: Routledge ISBN 0415391377 It was entitled ‘Heavens above: what equilibrium means for economics’, and appeared on pp240-260.

The book was devoted to a dialogue between the natural and the social sciences on the concept of equilibrium, arising from a series of seminars organised by the Centre for the Political and Natural Sciences by Valeria Mosini, in 2006. In this article I suggest how a natural scientist can understand the use which economics makes of the word ‘equilibrium’. I argue that a simple concept, unexceptionable for the study of many physical phenomena, has been transformed into something completely different. If, therefore, we naively expect to find it applied in economics in the same way as ‘energy’ in physics or ‘molecule’ in chemistry, as a means of describing and explaining what an impartial observer may independently verify, we will misunderstand its real significance. My basic thesis is that the educated public makes a mistake in accepting, at face value, the claim that economics conducts itself as a science. I will argue that, as at present practiced, it conducts itself as a religion. I argue that the concept of equilibrium is the organising principle of this religion.

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