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The Economics of Rhetoric: On Metaphors as Institutions

Author

Listed:
  • Lanteri, Alessandro
  • Yalcintas, Altug

Abstract

The professional life of economists takes place within the boundaries of the institution of academic economics. Belonging to the institution enable economists in many ways. It provides a context wherein their contribution is meaningful. But it constrains, too, what economists are allowed to do or say. Thus, institutions both enable and constrain individual action. Metaphors do the same and are therefore, in this respect, institutions. They are place-holders to communicate our beliefs, feelings, and thoughts. So far, there is nothing wrong. This may become a problem, however, as Richard Rorty has once said, when the “happenstance of our cultural development [is] that we got stuck so long with place-holders.” In the essay we focus on the enabling and disabling roles of metaphors as institutions in the rhetoric of economics. We argue, from the perspective of economics of rhetoric, that some of the metaphors can lead us to path dependent circumstances where the performance of the metaphors is not as desirable as it was when the metaphors were first introduced. Sometimes certain metaphors undergo exaptation, and are employed with new functions. Altogether, we believe, the tools of institutional economics can be fruitfully employed to study metaphors.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanteri, Alessandro & Yalcintas, Altug, 2006. "The Economics of Rhetoric: On Metaphors as Institutions," MPRA Paper 747, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:747
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/747/1/MPRA_paper_747.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Salvatore Rizzello, 2004. "Knowledge as a Path-Dependence Process," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 255-274, September.
    2. McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521436038.
    3. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019.
    4. McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521434751.
    5. Commons, John R., 1931. "Institutional Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 21, pages 648-657.
    6. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521425230.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics of rhetoric; metaphors as Institutions; path Dependence; exaptation;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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