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Fabrizio Serra Editore

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History of Economic Ideas

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This paper examines the implications of Chicago School economist Edward Lazear’s 2000 defense of economics imperialism using standard trade theory. It associates that defense with interdisciplinarity or the idea that the sciences are relatively autonomous, but treats this defense as a mask for a more conventional imperialist strategy of promoting Chicago School neoclassicism. Lazear’s argument actually created a dilemma for Chicago regarding how it could espouse interdisciplinarity while operating in a contrary way. I argue that the solution to this dilemma was for neoclassicism to rebuild economics imperialism around neoclassicism as a theory that sees the world in its own image in a performative manner. This strategy, however, suffers from a number of problems, which upon examination ultimately lead us to multidisciplinarity or the idea that the sciences can have transformative effects on one another. This latter conception can be associated with a complexity economics approach as an alternative view of the relation between the sciences. The paper argues that this view provides a basis for pluralism in economics.


Accepted version. History of Economic Ideas, Vol. 24, No. 3 (2016): 77-94. DOI. © 2016 Fabrizio Serra Editore. Used with permission.

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