Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

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Dimensions and Economics: Some Answers

  • The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

Tags Philosophy and Methodology

07/30/2014Roger Nils Folsom


Volume 8, No. 4 (Winter 2005)


William Barnett’s critique of mathematics in economic analysis, “Dimensions and Economics: Some Problems,” claims that economics almost always uses functions and equations without paying any attention to their variable and parameter dimensions and units. By casual observation, that criticism appears often to be true, and it applies not only to functions and equations but also to relations of all sorts, including inequalities. Following his introduction, Barnett makes his main case in three sections, using two different examples: The Cobb-Douglas production function, whose parameters he sees as having (1) “meaningless or economically unreasonable dimensions” and (2) “inconstant” dimensions. A macroeconomic model, whose technology (production) function’s parameters.  he sees as either (3) “meaningless,” or else as defining a function that relates output hours to labor input hours, which yields “no net production.” Either way, the model is “not defensible.”

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Cite This Article

Folsom, Roger Nils and Rodolfo Alejo Gonzalez. "Dimensions and Economics: Some Answers." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 8, No. 4 (Winter 2005): 45–65.

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