Misplaced Concreteness

The error of interpreting an economic model, representing a simplified version of reality, as if it were real life.

For example, neoclassical economics has a tendency to reduce complex ideas down to a level at which they can be fitted into equations. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, so long as the conclusions drawn from the equations are recognised as only cartoons, or sketches of parts of the whole picture, and as true only under particular assumptions.

The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness occurs when these models are taken literally, and interpreted as the whole reality.M17


Related entries:

Reductio ad Absurdum, Galley Skills, Metaphor, Reductionism.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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