Discussion Questions on Deirdre McCloskey, "The Rhetoric of this Economics"

1.  What is rhetoric in the narrow and broad sense?

2. McCloskey maintains (418) that "a fact is a fact relative only to a conceptual scheme" and that "facts are constructed by words."  What does she mean?  Is she right?

3.  McCloskey maintains that models are metaphors.  What does she mean, when she maintains for example that "the rational choice model is the master metaphor of mainstream economics" (425)?  Is she right? If models are metaphors, does that mean that there is no important distinction between science and poetry?

4.  McCloskey denies that "the experts just give us the plain facts and logic" (427).  Is she right? Is this something to be celebrated or regretted?

5.  McCloskey argues here and elsewhere that investigation of the rhetoric of economics ought to REPLACE (rather supplement) investigation of the methodology of economics.  What objection does she have to methodological inquiry?  What is better about inquiries into the rhetoric of economics?  What might be lost in jettisoning methodology?

Discussion Questions on Deirdre McCloskey, "The Rhetoric of this Economics"

1.  What is rhetoric in the narrow and broad sense?

2. McCloskey maintains (418) that "a fact is a fact relative only to a conceptual scheme" and that "facts are constructed by words."  What does she mean?  Is she right?

3.  McCloskey maintains that models are metaphors.  What does she mean, when she maintains for example that "the rational choice model is the master metaphor of mainstream economics" (425)?  Is she right? If models are metaphors, does that mean that there is no important distinction between science and poetry?

4.  McCloskey denies that "the experts just give us the plain facts and logic" (427).  Is she right? Is this something to be celebrated or regretted?

5.  McCloskey argues here and elsewhere that investigation of the rhetoric of economics ought to REPLACE (rather supplement) investigation of the methodology of economics.  What objection does she have to methodological inquiry?  What is better about inquiries into the rhetoric of economics?  What might be lost in jettisoning methodology?