What Keynes Stated in 1937, As He Had Stated in 1921 and 1936, Was That ’We Simply Do Not Know (About the Distant or Far Future)': The Post Keynesian (Robinson, Shackle, Weintraub, Davidson) Claim That Keynes Said Only That 'We Simply Do Not Know' Period is a Total Fabrication
35 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 9, 2019
It is a simple matter to show that Keynes’s discussion on pp. 213-214 of the February, 1937 Quarterly Journal of Economics article discussing uncertainty, that Joan Robinson, G L S Shackle, P. Davidson, heterodox and Post Keynesians economists claim represented a major change of emphasis on Keynes’s part from his discussions in the General Theory and A Treatise on Probability, is, in fact, identical to Keynes’s discussion of uncertainty on pp. 149-150,152-153, and 162-163 of the General Theory and pp. 309-310 of the A Treatise on Probability.
Keynes never referred to the 1937 QJE article during the rest of his lifetime. In his 1936-1938 exchanges with Townshend, Keynes explicitly referred Townshend only to the General Theory and the A Treatise on Probability. Keynes never mentioned the February, 1937 QJE article. He never mentioned Frank P. Ramsey. He never mentioned genuine uncertainty, radical uncertainty, fundamental uncertainty, or irreducible uncertainty. He never mentioned weak uncertainty, strong uncertainty, probabilistic uncertainty or non probabilistic uncertainty. The work on Keynes by the fundamentalist Keynesians are fabrications based on the original fabrications of Joan Robinson and G L S Shackle. All readers interested in the work of J M Keynes are advised tovery carefully read chapter 26 of the A Treatise on Probability, as well as the Keynes -Townshend exchanges.
In 2010, Chiles, Vultee, Gupta, Greening and Tuggle (2010) correctly argued that it was the radical subjectivist, G L S Shackle, with his kaleidic concept, which constantly and continually generated disorder and disequilibrium, who postulated the existence of genuine uncertainty or radical uncertainty. Nowhere in the article is J M Keynes mentioned. John Gray's concept of radical uncertainty is identical to the chaotic subjectivism of the radical subjectivist, G L S Shackle. It never had anything to do with Keynes.
The February, 1937 QJE article introduced nothing new, innovative, original, novel or creative that had not already been much more thoroughly presented by Keynes in far greater detail in 1921 (TP, pp. 309-310) and in the GT in 1936 (pp. 148-155, 162-163). This conclusion is simple to come to for any reader who (a) understands Parts II and V of the TP and (b) reads the Keynes-Townshend correspondence of 1937 and 1938. Keynes had always stated that it would not be possible to forecast the far and distant future. However, even with small or scanty relevant evidence, rational decisions were possible. In the immediate or near future, the decision maker would be able to attach greater weight of evidence to his partial knowledge upon which to base a decision that was still based only on partial evidence.
Shackle’s radical subjectivism had already been totally rejected by Keynes in the TP and GT. G L S Shackle and Joan Robinson deliberately tried to mislead economists and academics by proclaiming that, supposedly, Keynes had finally got it right in 1937 in the QJE article, an article that Keynes never referred to Townshend and which Keynes never mentioned in the rest of his life. This will be evident to any reader of the Keynes-Townshend correspondence of 1937 and 1938. See the two papers by Arthmar and Brady for a more detailed presentation.
Keywords: Townshend Keynes, weight, distant or far future versus near or immediate future, Shackle, Joan Robinson
JEL Classification: B10, B12, B14, B16, B20, B22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation