La retorica nell’economics. Una techne che ha assicurato il trionfo della disciplina / The Rethoric into Economics. A techne has provided the triumph of this issue

  • Maria Grazia Turri
Keywords: rhetoric, economics, metaphors, theology, ethics


The aim of the paper is that the rhetoric in economics is the basis of accepting or rejecting an economic theory and always the rhetoric is the criterion that can persuade colleagues, students, stakeholders, politicians and citizens about the plausibility of specific economic theory. How Deirdre McCloskey has clearly demonstrated the key question of accepting an economic theory as scientific is neither the perfect correspondence with the rules of epistemology nor the matter of truth but the persuasiveness of the theory’s creator. Mainstream economics say that a theory is scientific only in one case: if it follow the rules of epistemology as perfectly as possible. These include methods like induction, deduction, models and observation, and tools like equations, axioms and assumptions, so economists use both facts and logic in their theories. But nonetheless, not just mainstream economists, but every economists adopt a lot of metaphors, most of whom have a theological foundation and are included into a storytelling, so the argumentation becomes more persuasive. Economists use a language that is settled on by some kind of formalism - equations, axioms and assumptions borrowed from physics and mathematics -, but it is permeated with rhetorical figures and it is built on Aristotle’s discipline. So, economists are, in fact, sellers on the market of economic theories and who are the most persuasive will be able to sell their theories


AA.VV. (2010), «Neurorhetorics», in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Special Issue, vol. 40, 5.

ANDERSON, Gary A. (2009), Sin: A History, Yale University Press (tr. it. Il peccato. La sua storia nel mondo giudaico-cristiano, Liberilibri, Macerata, 2012).

BUCHANAN, James M. (1997), «The Balanced Budget Amendment: Clarifying the Arguments», in Public Choice, Springer, vol. 90, 1-4, pp. 117-38.

CALABRESE, Stefano (2013), Retorica e scienze cognitive, Carocci, Roma.

DAHL, Richard A. (1985), A Preface to Economic Democracy, University of California Press (tr. it. La democrazia economica, il Mulino, Bologna, 1989).

DERRIDA, Jacques (1987), Psyché: Inventions de l’autre, Galilée (tr. it. Psyché. Invenzioni dell’altro, Jaca Book, Milano, 2009).

DOWNS, Anthony (1957), The public interest: its meaning in a democracy, (tr. it. Teoria economica della democrazia, il Mulino, Bologna, 1988).

FÓNAGY, Ivan (1979), La métaphore en phonetique, Didier, Ottawa.

HABERMAS, Jürgen (1983), Moralbewußtsein und kommunikatives Handeln (tr. it. Etica del discorso, Laterza, Bari 1985).

KEYNES, John M. (1936), The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (tr. it. Teoria generale dell’occupazione, dell’interesse e della moneta, UTET, Torino 1978).

KOHUT, Heinz (1985), Self Psychology and the Humanities: Reflections on a New Psychoanalytic Approach (tr. it. Potere coraggio e narcisismo, Astrolabio, Roma 1986).

KÖVECSES, Zoltán (2002), Metaphor. A practical introduction, Oxford University Press, New York.

LAKOFF, George & JOHNSON, Mark (1979), Metaphors We Live By (tr. it. Metafore e vita quotidiana, Bompiani, Milano 1998).

LAKOFF, George & TURNER, Mark (1989), More Than Cool Reason. A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1983), «The Rhetoric of Economics», in Journal of Economic Literature, 2, pp. 481-517.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1985), The Rhetoric of Economics, Madison 12, The University of Wisconsis Press.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1988), «The Consequences of Rhetoric», in Fundamenta Scientiae, vol. 9, 2-3, pp. 269-284.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1990), If You’re So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1994), Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (1995), «Modern Epistemology against Analytic Philosophy: a Reply to Maki», in Journal of Economic Literature, 33, 3, pp. 1319-1323.

MCCLOSKEY, Deirdre (2010), Bourgeois Dignity: A Revolution in Rhetoric, Cato Unbound, October 4th, disponibile su

MERLEAU-PONTY, Marcel (1960), Signes (tr. it. Segni, Il Saggiatore, Milano 1967).

MISES von, Ludvig (1949), Human Action. A Treatise on Economics (tr. it. L’azione umana, UTET, Torino 1959).

ROTHBARD, Murray N. (2007), Contro Adam Smith, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli - CZ.

SCHUMPETER, Joseph A. (1943), Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (tr. it. Capitalismo, socialismo, democrazia, Etas, Milano 2001).

SEARLE, John R. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality (tr. it. La costruzione della realtà sociale, Edizioni di Comunità, Milano 1996).

SPERBER, Hans (1923), Einführung in die Bedeutungslehre, Leipzig, Bonn.

TURRI, Maria Grazia (2009), La distinzione fra moneta e denaro, Carocci, Roma.

TURRI, Maria Grazia (2011), Gli oggetti che popolano il mondo. Ontologia delle relazioni, Carocci, Roma.

TURRI, Maria Grazia (2014), Gli dei del capitalismo. Teologia economica nell’età dell’incertezza, Mimesis, Milano-Udine.

ULLMANN, Stephen (1964), Language and Style (tr. it. Stile e linguaggio, Vallecchi, Firenze 1968).

VOLPI, Franco (2014), Oggetto e metodo dell’economia politica, FrancoAngeli, Milano.

VOLTAIRE (1759), Candide, ou l’optimisme (tr. it. Candide, ovvero l’ottimismo, Bompiani, Milano 1987).

How to Cite
Turri, M. G. (1) “La retorica nell’economics. Una techne che ha assicurato il trionfo della disciplina / The Rethoric into Economics. A techne has provided the triumph of this issue”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: (Accessed: 20May2024).