Introduction -- Unintended consequences -- The origin of money -- Segregation -- The invisible hand -- The origin of money reconsidered -- Models and representation -- Game theory and conventions -- Conclusion.
The image of economics got somewhat puzzling after the crisis of 2008. Many economists now doubt that economics is able to provide answers to some of its core questions. The crisis was not so fun for economics. However, this not so fun image of economics is not the only image in the eyes of the general public. When one looks at economics-made-fun (EMF) books (e.g. Freakonomics, The Undercover Economist, etc.), economics seems to be an explanatory science which is able to (...) provide interesting, unconventional, entertaining and enlightening explanations for almost every aspect of our lives. Isn't there a great contradiction between these two images of economics? Not necessarily. The present paper explicates why. Nevertheless, the paper also shows that EMF books run the risk of creating a false sense of understanding and explains how one should read the basic insights provided by EMF books to remove this risk. The paper contrasts the EMF version of the explanation of the effects of mandatory seat belt laws with actual research concerning the subject to illustrate its arguments. (shrink)
This paper analyses and explicates the explanatory characteristics of Schelling's checkerboard model of segregation. It argues that the explanation of emergence of segregation which is based on the checkerboard model is a partial potential (theoretical) explanation. Yet it is also argued that despite its partiality, the checkerboard model is valuable because it improves our chances to provide better explanations of particular exemplifications of residential segregation. The paper establishes this argument by way of examining the several ways in which the checkerboard (...) model has been explored in the literature. The examination of the checkerboard model also supports the view that the relation between the real world and models is complex, and models should be considered as mediators, or as instruments of investigation. (shrink)
Gul and Pesendorfer (2008) argue that neuroeconomics is evidentially and explanatorily irrelevant to economics, because neuroeconomics and economics ask different questions and utilize different abstractions. They suggest neuroeconomics is only relevant as a source of inspiration for economists. The present paper accepts their basic premise and asks whether the fact that neuroeconomics and economics ask different questions implies that neuroeconomics is irrelevant. The paper argues that Gul and Pesendorfer overlook some important respects in which neuroeconomics is relevant for economics. First, (...) neuroeconomics can improve singular explanations in economics. Second, and more importantly, it improves our understanding of economic phenomena. And finally, it helps us assess the plausibility of our conjectures concerning economic phenomena. It may be true that neuroeconomics will not revolutionize economics (at least in the short run), but it is more than a source of inspiration. (shrink)
N. EmrahAydinonat's account of the invisible-hand is analysed. One of the conditions for unintended social consequences is it requires that individuals' intentions are exclusively directed at the individual level. This condition is weakened in order to accommodate cases in which individuals may also aim at consequences at the social level but the model clearly depicts the invisible hand. Lehtinen's model of counterbalancing strategic votes is proposed as an example that satisfies Aydinonat's conditions, if they are modified (...) as suggested. (shrink)
Ruchkin et al. use brain-activity data from healthy subjects to assess the physiological validity of a cognitive working memory model and to propose modifications. The conclusions drawn from this data are interesting and plausible, but they have limitations. Much of what is known about the neural mechanisms of working memory comes from single neuron recordings in animals, and it is currently not fully understood how these translate to scalp recordings of EEG.
The A-kinase-anchoring protein 5 (AKAP5), a post-synaptic multi-adaptor molecule that binds G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and intracellular signaling molecules has been implicated in emotional processing in rodents, but its role in human emotion and behavior is up to now still not quite clear. Here, we report an association of individual differences in aggressive behavior and anger expression with a functional genetic polymorphism (Pro100Leu) in the human AKAP5 gene. Among a cohort of 527 young, healthy individuals, carriers of the less common Leu (...) allele (15.6% allele frequency) scored significantly lower in the physical aggression domain of the Buss and Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ) and higher in the anger control dimension of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI). In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment we could further demonstrate that AKAP5 Pro100Leu modulates the interaction of negative emotional processing and executive functions. To investigate implicit control-processes of anger control, we used the well-known flanker-task in order to evoke processes of action-monitoring and error-processing and added task-irrelevant neutral or angry faces in the background of the flanker stimuli. In line with our predictions, Leu carriers showed increased activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during emotional interference, which in turn predicted shorter reaction times and might be related to stronger control of emotional interference. Conversely, Pro homozygotes exhibited increased orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) activation during emotional interference, with no behavioral advantage. Immunohistochemistry revealed AKAP5 expression in the human ACC and OFC. Our results suggest that AKAP5 Pro100Leu contributes to individual differences in human aggression and anger. Further research is warranted to explore the detailed role of AKAP5 in human emotional processing. (shrink)
Repetition suppression (RS) is a rapid decrease of stimulus-related neuronal responses upon repeated presentation of a stimulus. Previous studies have demonstrated that negative emotional salience of stimuli enhances RS. It is, however, unclear how motivational salience of stimuli, such as reward-predicting value, influences RS for complex visual stimuli, and which brain regions might show differences in RS for reward-predicting and neutral stimuli. Here we investigated the influence of motivational salience on RS of complex scenes using event-related fMRI. Thirty young healthy (...) volunteers performed a monetary incentive delay (MID) task with complex scenes (indoor vs. outdoor) serving as neutral or reward-predicting cue pictures. Each cue picture was presented three times. In line with previous findings, reward anticipation was associated with activations in the ventral striatum, midbrain, and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Stimulus repetition was associated with pronounced repetition suppression in ventral visual stream areas like the parahippocampal place area (PPA). An interaction of reward anticipation and repetition suppression was specifically observed in the anterior hippocampus, where a response decrease across repetitions was observed for the reward-predicting scenes only. Functional connectivity analysis further revealed specific activity-dependent connectivity increases of the hippocampus and the PPA and OFC. Our results suggest that hippocampal repetition suppression is sensitive to reward-predicting properties of stimuli and might therefore reflect a rapid, adaptive neural response mechanism for motivationally salient information. (shrink)