DM: Craig, I would rather say that some mathematical models do encapsulate a complete understanding of, for example, some theory of physics, but that however good the mathematics one can only say that the theory is one of many that is internally credible and not falsified by experience. (Think of Euclidean Geometry before Relativity.) It may in some sense be the best of those considered so far, but (at least in physics) there are always always hords of people trying to falsify it and there can be no mathematical reason why they might not succeed.
We agree that economics would be improved if economists were more like scientists in appreciating what you say, but I would add that one sometimes needs to check that the ‘insight’ is credible. This seems to require logic, and in so far as we are interested in numbers seems to require mathematics. My beef with mainstream economics is that from a mathematical perspective it looks like numerology or what Keynes called ‘pseudo-mathematics’, not the real deal. I speculate that economics would need to embrace mathematics more fully if it is ever to get sufficient clarity. Either that, or pray!
Insight plus mathematics, not either alone?
Me: Dave M, “I would rather say that some mathematical models do encapsulate a complete understanding of, for example, some theory of physics, but that however good the mathematics one can only say that the theory is one of many that is internally credible and not falsified by experience.”
I would agree that this is true, because some things/theories can only be falsified or confirmed by philosophy….before they are implemented…and then everyone says, “oh yeah, this is obviously true and good….because everything makes sense and works better now.” In other words truth or falsification is impossible with human sensorial experience alone and philosophy/conscious self actualization must suffice. Quantum Mechanics is one such example, and so is my contention that the nature of the cosmos is a flowing dynamic, interactive, integrative and puzzling state of grace just sitting there waiting for us to discover and then find ways to apply to our temporal systems.
Much would become more clear in economics if we’d consider what I have said here before:
1) Both micro and Macro-economics have fallaciously accepted that private finance is a legitimate profit making business model
2) Economists recognized that the pricing, money and accounting systems all follow the rule that equal debits and credits sum to zero and the point of retail sale is where policy can be implemented to resolve modern economies’ chronic problems and best benefit all agents.
“Insight plus mathematics, not either alone?”
Yes, this also rings true because it is a duality to integrate to the point of thirdness greater oneness that results in actual change and progress. The integrative ethic/my cosmic code of wisdom stated as an integrated duality within an integrative trinity-unity-oneness-process is the formula that mere science and economics needs to embrace so that it is less prone to becoming confirmation bias like neo-liberalism has become.
There is no permanent truth except graceful continual change and the only way to actually understand that paradox is to embrace it via the integration/resolution of the koan that is our temporal existence.