The Barefoot Bum63p
252 comments posted · 228 followers · following 2
You're too kind. ;-)
Which brings up, of course, a more important point (that you correctly note): All scientific theories are descriptive, not normative. It is impossible to establish a normative proposition by the scientific method, since any non-trivial normative proposition is in principle unfalsifiable by experiment in any theoretical context.
There are substantial problems with free market economics from a purely theoretical level.
First, free market economics do indeed entail Pareto efficiency, but this result begs the question as to whether we actually want a Pareto-efficient economy and more importantly which Pareto efficient solution we want to achieve: many different patterns of distribution are Pareto-efficient.
More importantly, free market economics entails that all individuals seek the local Nash equilibrium for individual economic decisions. This entails that any "Prisoner's Dilemma" economic situations are always resolved by mutual defection. Therefore, free market economics (as well as purely anarchist economics) structurally fails to achieve available mutual benefits. (Note that all outcomes of PD games are Pareto efficient, when different decision-sets are considered as alternative benefit distributions.)
Third, there is the observation that free market economics has absolutely nothing to do with actually existing political economies. Free market economics specifically requires (on close examination) that property rights be limited (with only trivial exceptions) to ownership by physical possession. Ownership of capital is necessarily abstract, abstract ownership is by definition an externality, and free market economics assumes no externalities. To attempt to describe a capitalist political economy in terms of free market economics is as pointless and stupid as trying to describe aerodynamics in terms of gravitation in a vacuum.
Harris commits an obvious fallacy of type. The statement, "All morals are relative" is (in the relevant sense) an absolute statement, but significantly it is not itself a moral statement; it is a metamoral (or metaethical) statement. It is thus not self-referential and does not entail any self-referential paradoxes.
In just the same sense, consider the obviously true statement:
(1) The value of the sum of an arithmetic addition is relative to the values of the operands
Clearly (1) states a relation in absolute terms, but it is not an arithmetical statement, it is a statement about arithmetic, a meta-arithmetical statement.
You are surprised?