The 'vices' are three bad habits into which economists have fallen over the past fifty years: bad statistics, bad theory, and bad applications of statistics and theory to public affairs. This book details the vices, tracing them to the influence of three giants of the 1940s and 1950s in economics, the Americans Lawrence Klein and Paul Samuelson, and the Dutchman Jan Tinbergen. McCloskey recommends a 'bourgeois', even feminine, virtue to replace the aristocratic and masculine vices of modern economics. She sees intellectual life as a bourgeois market of negotiating equals. What is good for a liberal democracy is good for intellectual life, she argues, even in the forbiddingly mathematical world of modern economics.
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