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Postmodern Economics and the Need for Experimentation

QUESTION: Postmodern Economics – The Need for Experimentation


Some Postmodernists believe Richard Rorty’s view of Postmodern economics is too optimistic. They are convinced that every economic system to date has failed in one way or another. Iain Grant writes, “...if the tools of the past—Marxism, the Enlightenment project, market liberalism and so on—have been tried and found wanting, then [as Lyotard suggested] experiment is demanded.”1 Here, Postmodernists acknowledge that all economic theories have failed, and therefore the best we can do is keep experimenting as we go. Maybe, by chance, we will invent some new economic idea that will better serve the people. Yet Postmodernists offer no concrete alternative to build upon. Epstein observes correctly that “one reason that Postmodernism has taken hold so widely is that it is much easier to be critical than to present a positive vision.”2

Postmodern Economics – The Postmodern Dilemma
Even Ruccio and Amariglio seem to have low expectations of Postmodern everyday economics. They say, “We don’t envision (or for that matter, seek to promote) a separate Postmodern economic theory.”3 In fact, they are “hesitant to argue that Postmodernism shows the way forward,”4 and are content with conversations and encounters “rather than a new [economic] home.” Since there is no truth about the real world or the nature of humanity, it is hard to arrive at a correct view of economics. Such is the Postmodern dilemma.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Stuart Sim, ed., The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism (London, UK: Routledge, 2004), 40.
2 Barbara Epstein, “Postmodernism and the Left,” New Politics vol. 6, no. 2 (new series), whole no. 22 (Winter 1997). Available online at
3 Ruccio and Amariglio, Postmodern Moments in Modern Economics,295.
4 Ibid., 299.

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