The Blog Project (thinking outloud)

What I am driving at:

The field of macro-economics thinks it is a science when it really is just bad moral philosophy. The question remains: how much of "economics" suffers from the same flaw?  Noah Smith, inter alia, seems to think much of econ is empirical. But while acknowledging or even accommodating the existence of the world outside the ivory tower is necessary for science, it's not sufficient. The critical issue is directional: does empirical reality get generalized into theories which are then tested, or do theories get created first only to be modified by reality? 

A instant test occurs when theory fails to match reality. For scientists, this means the theory is wrong. For (bad) economists, this means the theory must be modified or the area of conflict designated somehow irrelevant, often saying "model is inappropriate here". 


Close to zero percent of the population has an "ideology" defined as a system of ideas. We don't talk about the ideologies that are held universally by Americans like nationalism which hides the fact that nationalism is a great example of what ideology actually means. In the US, nationalism incorporates the notion that we owe our loyalty to the country and it's laws, especially when they conflict with the preferences of our family, our clan, our ethnicity, or our locality. This choice is not up for empirical debate. To disagree is to be an outlaw.  

A "system of ideas" must be a system, which means that the ideas relate to each other in a coherent way (not necessarily purely rational, but coherent). A list of ideas is not an ideology, it is a doctrine or dogma. When people say the GOP insists on "ideological purity", they really mean that the party doctrine is strictly enforced. They are "doctrinaire" or "dogmatic". My name for the doctrine is "Reaganism". Reagan was Saint Paul to Buckley's John and Goldwater's Jesus, but, arguably, it's Christianity that's misnamed, not Reaganism. Ronald Reagan the man was not a particularly dogmatic Reaganist in action, but in pronouncements he clearly articulated the pure doctrine.  

Reaganist platform:

But while Christian dogma is a mix of real world and supernatural claims the Reaganist doctrine is almost entirely empirical claims. People talk about "principles and values" but the difference between the parties is difference in beliefs. Project=list Reaganist beliefs/empirical claims.