The fruitful field
Laughs with abundance

-William Cowper

[T]hat so far as it is a fallacy, it is always the sign of a morbid state of mind, and comparatively of a weak one.

-John Ruskin

Ruskin is writing about the pathetic fallacy in art: the treatment of inanimate objects as if they were human. Whether it is appropriate in art is perhaps a question of taste, what one believes is the purpose of art, or a weak and morbid state of mind. But in economics (and in speaking of production in particular), this kind of personification happens too often, in my opinion, and can cause very serious errors if taken literally.

I propose that the way we choose to talk about production can matter a great deal. The metaphor can affect the way we actually view production. In particular, it may affect how we make important legal determinations concerning the very structure of the firm; it ceases to be a metaphor and begins to affect our “state of mind”. If you commit the pathetic fallacy, the time has come to confess. Read the rest of this entry »

A Different Game

February 6, 2009

Occasionally someone has an inspired moment. Shawn Wilbur, in a post at the Forums of the Libertarian Left, sums up quite well the problem with the debates that spring up around mutualism and also offers a valuable perspective on the “key elements” behind the philosophy: Read the rest of this entry »