Edited by Jesper Jespersen and Mogens Ove Madsen
Chapter 3: The future is open: on open-system theorising in economics
Open systems should form the core of economics teaching on the grounds of their superior relevance, but there are psychological difficulties attendant on this approach. Many students have expressed dissatisfaction with the content of economics teaching. The French PostAutistic network, the first group to complain about the economics curriculum in an organised and powerful way,1 now has a sister organisation in Cambridge, the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism.2 Students walked out in protest at Mankiw’s lectures at Harvard,3 and the number of students applying to study the subject is falling in most countries. The name ‘PostAutistic’ reflected those students’ perception that economics has lost its connection with the outside world, and that was the perception of the ‘Mankiw rebels’ too. There is a need to move beyond that and get back in touch with reality. All theory involves some departure from reality or it would not be theory, but open systems are superior to the closed systems that form the bulk of economics today, both because their abstractions tend more closely to reflect underlying reality and because they force a consciousness about the abstractions one is choosing (Dow 2002; Jespersen 2009; Lawson 1997, 2002; Rotheim 2002).
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