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Narrative fixation in economics

Edward Fullbrook

Published 14 Dec 2016 by WEA Books

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This is a great book.  Against the background of the dogmatism of much of modern economics, Edward Fullbrook has produced an innovative and wide-ranging argument for narrative pluralism. The timely book is beautifully written, accessible to all, provocative, extraordinarily insightful, and extremely compelling.

Tony Lawson, Cambridge University, UK

This fascinating and profound work should be read by all economists, and by anyone who is taken in by mainstream economics’ false claims of scientific objectivity. Fullbrook’s erudite, systematic and thoughtful investigation into the philosophical and conceptual bases of the “singular narrative” exposes the limitations of neoclassical economics and its degenerate practice, and provides a powerful critique of different models of economic rationality.

Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India


Preface 1
Chapter 1: The narrative pluralism of physics 3
Chapter 2: Intersubjective reality, intrasubjective theory 41
Chapter 3: Concealed ideology 65
Chapter 4: From the natural to the social 79
Chapter 5: Narrative rationality 89
Chapter 6: What is the difference between theories about “economic man” and theories about rats? 127

This ebook is available as a PDF.


For anyone interested in the state of modern (mainstream) economics, and especially in the question of how and why the neoclassical school has remained so dominant over other schools since the Crash of 2008, Edward Fullbrook’s Narrative Fixation in Economics is a must-read. It goes far beyond other treatments in the way that it compares – unfavourably -- the prevailing “mono-epistemology” in economics with the norms of epistemological pluralism in the natural sciences.  It shows how neoclassical economics modelled itself on Newtonian late 19th century physics; and remained fixed to that epistemology even as physics later embraced a norm of epistemological pluralism.

Robert H. Wade, London School of Economics

This genuinely original book, with its lively and engaging argumentation, is a must read for students of economics who want to remedy the deficiencies of mainstream economics as it is practiced today. Scrutinizing the weird make-believe world of mainstream economics and its narrative dogmatism, determinism and atomism, it constitutes a powerful plaidoyer for real pluralism in economics. Fullbrook brings bold new perspectives on the logic of economic choice, rationality, ideology, naturalism, and microfoundations. Whether you agree with him or not, he forces you to think.

Lars P Syll, Malmö University, Sweden

Edward Fullbrook's book is provocative and highly convincing. In very clear language, it shows us that there is no such thing as a one and unique truth, neither in natural sciences, nor in social sciences. Because reality is multifaceted, narrative pluralism is essential for the advancement of knowledge and for the good health of a democratic society. Fullbrook's reading changes our understanding of what is science and what is ideology. I hope his ideas will be taken seriously by social scientists and, especially, by economists.

André Orléan, l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

The neoclassical monopoly in economics necessarily ignores most of what really counts, and locks out competitors. Fullbrook establishes this persuasively in a thoughtful, grounded, and accessible study. To be adequate, economic understanding requires a plurality of approaches. This book shows conclusively that no other position is tenable.

Anver Offer, All Souls College, Oxford University, UK

Edward Fullbrook's Narrative Fixation in Economics is an exceptionally erudite exploration of the descent of economics into scientism and anti-knowledge.

Julie Nelson, University of Massachusetts, Boston

ISBN (eBook):978-1-911156-34-5
ISBN (print):978-1-84890-228-2