When the first economics departments were proposed at Cambridge and Oxford, the proponents thought acceptance would be improved if economics could be seen as incorporating the methods of physics. The enterprise was premised on the existence of economic laws that describe invariant relationships between events. These event regularities, like gravity, were not affected by human action. Humans could adapt and use them, but not change them. Thus the metaphor of "mechanism" seemed appropriate and became embedded in economists' language. It is common to use the term market mechanism to link prices and commodities. This suggests the economy is like turning a crank attached to a set of gears where there is a fixed relationship between the crank's motion and the last gear's motion. The gears have no ideas of their own, they don't get mad; there is no cognitive element between events and action.


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