Critical Political Economy
Complexity, Rationality, and the Logic of Post-Orthodox Pluralism
Routledge – 2008 – 328 pages
This book asks how a more liberating economics could be constructed and taught. It suggests that if economists today are serious about emancipation and empowerment, they will have to radically change their conception about what it means for a citizen to act rationally in a complex society.
Arnsperger emphasises that current economics neglects an important fact: Many of us ask not only ‘what’s in it for us’, within a given socio-economic context; we also care about the context itself. The author argues that if citizens keen on exercising their critical reason actually demanded economic theories that allowed them to do so, economics would have to become a constantly emerging, open-ended knowledge process. He claims that in a truly free economy, there would be no all-out war between ‘orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’ approaches, but an intricate and unpredictable ‘post-orthodox’ pluralism that would emerge from the citizens’ own complex interactions.
Offering an original and path-breaking combination of insights from Hayek, the theory of complexity, and the Frankfurt School of social criticism, Arnsperger discusses how such a free economy would generate its specific brand of economics, called ‘Critical Political Economy’
'An impressively argued attempt to bridge conventional divisions between economics and other areas of social theory' William Outhwaite (Sussex University, UK)
1. Introduction Part 1: Uncritical Complexity 2. Uncritical Atoms: The Limits of Standard Economics 3. Uncritical Mass: The Limits of Complexity Economics 4. The Use of Uncritical Knowledge in Society Part 2: Bottom-Up Critical Theory - The Logic of Self-Criticizing Complexity 5. The Use of Critical Knowledge about Society 6. Bottom-Up Critical Theory: What Does Economics Describe? 7. A Self-Criticizing Economic System Part 3: Toward a Critical Mainstream? 8. A Formal Approach to Critically Rational Action Part 4: Critical Political Economy - The Logic of Post-Orthodox Pluralism 9. The Use of Economics in a Complex Economy 10. Free-Economy Economics 11. Post-Orthodox Pluralism in Economics