Law School was at UCLA -- where I did an economics/law seminar on A.K.Sen's Collective Choice and Social Welfare with Brian Ellickson in which the two of us tried to teach George Fletcher (now at Columbia Law School) the rudiments of economic theory. In fact, I spent a whole summer trying to get George through Stigler's Theory of Price, but George, charming fellow that he is, was absolutely impervious to economic theory. He simply couldn't suspend his disbelief in the three fundamental assuptions (continuity of demand, non-satiety, and rational preferences) long enough to understand how economic theory worked. I tried to explain that all he had to do was suspend disbelief long enough to learn the system, at which point I could introduce the math to relax the assumptions, but he wouldn't bite. Sooooo many people who don't understand economic theory miss the point of the assumptions, which is to simplify things enough that you can demonstrate results with 'ordinary' mathematics every college sophomore should know, i.e. integral and differntial calculus. You can get your assumptions much closer to 'reality', but the mathematical price of admission is fierce: you need graduate level competence in real analysis, topology and measure theory. Indeed, in my mathematical economics seminar as a graduate student, it felt more like a math class: we took turns proving for the seminar the key theorems in Debreu's Theory of Value and Hildenbrand's Core and Equilibria of a Large Economy. Can you use Lebegue Measure? Sure you can.....
posted on 02/21/2003 11:38:51 AM PST
(Ceterum Censeo Mesopotamiam Esse Delendam)
It is particularly difficult to get the pin heads around here to understand the role of assumptions. They hate economists and economic theory and think Pat has an understanding of economics never realizing that his prescriptions would be a disaster for the U.S. and the ROW.
I swear most of them don't care how much the U.S. is harmed as long as other countries are too.
My grad. Micro courses were entirely math. I still have my Debreu text from grad. school.
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