It was John Maynard Keynes who first pointed out its importance, and its consequences for policy. Keynes said that policies which are sound and necessary when the economy is fully employed, are unsound and destructive when the economy is shrinking.
He knew what he was talking about. He had lived through the Great Depression of 1929-32 when governments did what they were supposed to do in normal times: balance the budget and hold fast to sound money. The result was the greatest economic disaster in modern history.
Keynes's crucial distinction between full employment and subnormal employment was totally ignored by George Osborne in his speech "The Conservative Strategy for Recovery" last week. At no point in his speech did Osborne
Reputations - A.J.Ayer
| Sunday, August 22, 1999
The recent downsizing of A.J. ('Freddie') Ayer is none too soon. For several decades no one who went to Oxford could escape the stultifying influence of his Logical Positivism and its associated Verification Principle - the view that, apart from logic and mathematics, all statements which cannot be verified empirically are meaningless.
This doctrine managed to be both trivialising and nihilistic. Trivialising, because it dismissed all the traditional problems of philosophy as 'pseudo-problems' arising from a misuse of language. And nihilistic, because it consigned the whole of human thought outside the natural sciences to a limbo of personal opinion ('emotivism') on which nothing true or false could be said.
Far from remaining, as