sexta-feira, maio 12, 2006

On models

In response to Nuno Carneiro, who was trying to make a connection between models of nature and political ideology, I wrote in his blog the comment that follows. You may join the debate either here or in his blog.

First, you talk about models like the ones used in physics, which indeed try to describe reality or phenomena of reality. Models of physics try to describe nature. The same happens, for example, in Economics, considered a social science, where people try to make models to capture the reality of an economy, from a given point of view, so that they can better understand what is going on, and to make certain predictions. I don't know exactly why, but the models of physics seem to be more accurate thant the ones used in Economics, but the idea is the same: the use of models to describe some reality.

Then you jump to a different thing. Political ideology is like a model of organisation a society, and although there is a connection with models used in science, it is not the same thing. Actually the aims behind the two are different. Models of organisation of a society try to address the problem of what is the best way to organise all those individuals that make a society. Given that we, humans, are social beings what are the best rules of organisation of a group of individuals so that we can all benefit from such organisation. This has to be, somehow, agreed by the individuals that make the society (or a group of them) and then enforced. That model of organisation has to be built by someone, ideally all of us. It is not there, so we can't make a model to capture what is there, but to make a model to rule the way a society is organised.

5 Comments:

At 5/13/2006 12:01 da manhã, Blogger chiara said...

Models of social science and ideologies are not exactly the same thing, anyway.
In Marx's Kapital there are many things: an idea of history, a sociological imvestigation on the condition of workers in the industrial 1800s, in the 2nd book, a theory of value (this is why he is a father of economics). The political manifesto came at another time and precedeed by many years an actual a revolution.

Fascism, on the other hand,
and in the sense of the political regime that governed Italy in 1920-43, cannot really be thought of as an ideology. In Italy, first came
the revolution (or the coup d'etat) and only then a political-theory. La marcia su Roma was the effect of the convergence of social political and economical interest from a social block made up of industrial burgeoisie and landowners. The theoretical epiphenomenon of that regime was definitely the corporativism, which has never really died, and had in Berlusconi is modern interpret (recently, during the electoral campaign, he said that the italian leftwingers are thosee guys that want to give the children of workers the same opportinities that children of professionals have... it speaks for itself).

 
At 5/15/2006 3:18 da manhã, Anonymous pedro said...

N. Carneiro’s claim is that the use of models entails some sort of constructivism or social engineering ; the fact that Chicago full-blooded libertarians create and base their analyses on models dismisses this claim entirely.

More interesting is the causality reversal: models are built on assumptions and these are bundled with ideological beliefs. Following Chiara’s account of Italian Fascism, note that the Pareto principle, which leads the rank of allocative principia, was named after a social philosopher (V. Pareto) who mentored B Mussolini.

 
At 5/15/2006 10:59 da manhã, Blogger Nuno said...

Pedro,

Let's try to keep the discussion general and not too tied to Economics. I am not an economist and neither is Nuno Carneiro, the original author of the post. We do know about models because we use them. So if we keep things general we can all participate in the discussion.

On your point that the assumptions of economic models are bundled with ideological beliefs, then I have to say that that is not a very good thing. Because it may comprimise the value of the model. Assumptions should be as much as possible almost like facts.

This follows the principle of mathematical and philosophical logic, a field that started with the work of the greek philosopher Aristole. In Logic, the axioms (or premises or assumptions) should be facts. If they are not so, then the results of the logical inference may be misleading.

 
At 5/15/2006 12:56 da tarde, Anonymous pedro said...

Yes,
Bundling assumptions with ideology is not a good thing as long as these ties are not made explicit.

I do not want to be tchnical.

I simply pointed out that even the most libertarian of economists and social philosophers use models. That being the case,the use of models cannot entail social planning ambitions since libertarians despise and reject them.

Cheers!

 
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