Altered States: Ricardian and Cartesian dreams
This paper investigates what the Cartesian and Ricardian dreams have in common and discusses what this implies for our understanding of present day science and economics.
16 March 2021
UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) Working Paper Series: IIPP WP 2021/07
- Eric S. Reinert | Tallinn University of Technology and UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
- Monica di Fiore | Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
- Andrea Saltelli | Open Evidence Research, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
- Jerome R. Ravetz | Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford
Reinert E.S., Di Fiore M., Saltelli A., Ravetz J.R. (2021). Altered States: Cartesian and Ricardian dreams. UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2021/07). Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/wp2021-07
Economics and science are both experiencing crises. These crises have more in common than it might seem, apart from the banal – albeit contested fact – that economics itself is a science.
Among the various readings of the crisis of science, behind a dystopian system of incentives and bad practices leading to the so-called reproducibility crisis, one can see the unravelling of the Cartesian dream of power, prediction and control of man over nature made possible by natural philosophy. Economics has its share of irreproducible results, and economists suffer under the same publish-or-perish culture as other scientists. Yet, in the reading of the specific features of the crisis in economics, the element of ideology is more prevalent: economics would no longer get it right, as its lenses would be those of a neo-liberal ideology and to an associated simplified vision of what economics is about. The role of markets in this vision is of paramount importance, so it would not be inappropriate to call this the crisis of the Ricardian dream.
In this paper we investigate what the Cartesian and the Ricardian dreams have in common and discuss what this would imply for our understanding of present day science and economics.