From the discussion of Hayek's contributions to macroeconomics (which before two days ago I thought everyone agreed were few after the 1930s), Edwin Herdman writes:
"From the description of Hayek you've [another commenter] given, it seems as if he was tempted to claim the task of macroeconomics impossible and throw up his hands. "I've done my work, let me rest on my laurels!" ...To say that a theory has no use because it might conceivably be improved is to miss the point of having a theory in the first place, and this seems only increased in the case of one of the "soft sciences" like macroeconomics."
My one objection - as regular readers know - is that I hate the term "soft science". But it's true that in a complex science the understanding of theory as a useful attempt at explaining the world rather than a "mirror of nature" is even more important.
You can read more of Edwin's comments here.
We really shouldn't praise Hayek for the scientism stuff, although I'm willing to give him credit for lots of things - not that one. Same with Mises and the rejection of economics as empirical. These are really corrosive approaches to science that rely on a comparison with a misconceived benchmark. It's the old Russ Roberts fallacy: claim that economists shouldn't try to emmulate physicists and then turn around and dismiss the scientific status of economics because it's not like physics (or how Russ Roberts conceives of physics, I should say)!
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