A long-time friend and colleague writes (in French, so my own loose translation follows):
I was thinking about your post on rationality, a concept whose [economic] definition differs from its popular definition.
Other examples: “structural,” “public good,” or “efficiency.” In the limit, “profit” and “rent.”
Is it the layperson’s job to learn accurate definitions, or the economist’s job to be more precise about their vocabulary?
I think it’s our job to define the terms we use when we engage in public debates, for two reasons. First, because I believe the onus is always on the writer to be understood by his readers. That belief of mine probably stems from studying philosophy in college in a French-speaking university, and from the allergic reaction I got from being exposed to some of the most willingly obfuscating writing ever published (see Derrida, Jacques; or don’t.) (more…)