James Buchanan on Jack Wiseman and George Shackle

I read some of Buchanan’s work and I am not much of a fan for it. But ironically , there are economists that I appreciate that like Buchannan’s work, specifically Karen Vaughn and Jack Wiseman. I guess if I want to read up on subjectivist economics, I rather read them than Buchanan. I do give Buchanan the credit for introducing me to Wiseman though and it was actually this interview where I first saw Wiseman’s name. In the interview Buchanan had with the Austrian Economics Newsletter, Buchanan comments on Wiseman and Shackle:

Well, I’m certainly much closer to Shackle than I am to the mainstream. I’ve been tempted to go completely along with Shackle and become a very radical subjectivist. But I recognize that if you go all the way down that road you end up with a nihilistic position. I’m somewhere between von Mises and Yeager on the one hand and Shackle on the other. The person who comes closest to my methodological position is Jack Wiseman.

This is a confusing statement because there is not much difference in how Shackle and Wiseman view uncertainty and how it is applied to economics. If anything, Buchanan should criticize Wiseman for his nihilistic view on economics like he did to Shackle. Wiseman did not think he was departing from Shackle when taking about uncertainty and ignorance of the future, and he even classified Shackle to be part of what Wiseman called the “new uncertainty” school of thought. Wiseman’s view on uncertainty is just as radical, just as critical of formalization as that of that “nihilistic” economist. Furthermore, I think he speaks for all economists that appreciate uncertainty (and thus would reject the nihilistic label put on ontological uncertainty ) when he states:

I hope that I have persuaded you that there is here something more than a straw man: those of us who are interested in the study of a truly uncertain world could do with some help.

More on Wiseman here: A Forgotten Austrian: Jack Wiseman


One response to “James Buchanan on Jack Wiseman and George Shackle

  1. Pingback: An Update on Buchanan’s comments on Wiseman and Shackle | The Radical Subjectivist

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