The subjectivism of the Austrian school of economics is a special case of Dewey's transactional philosophy, also known as pragmatism or pragmatic epistemology. The Austrian economists Carl Friedrich Menger (1840-1921) and Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) adopted an Aristotelian deductive approach to economic issues such as social behavior and exchange. Like Menger and Mises, Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) viewed scientific knowledge, even in the social sciences, as asserting and aiming for objective certainty. Hayek was particularly critical of attempts to apply (...) the empiricism of the natural sciences in the social sciences. Though Hayek was not a positivist in the sense ascribed to Milton Friedman (1912-), because he accepted the possibility of final, objective certainty, Hayek's view of scientific knowledge was closer to that of the logical positivists of the Vienna circle than to Dewey's pragmatism. Mises' a priorism, asserting and aiming for apodictic certainty, represented a more extreme form of objectivism even than Hayek's. Mises was similar in this regard to non-Austrian axiomatists such as Gerard Debreau (1921-2005), though he joined Hayek in eschewing mathematical formalism. In Dewey's contrasting view, the scientist commends new, alternative ways of knowing to the scientific community, offering more profound insight or more efficacious practical applications. Alternative ways of knowing which do not offer practical or intellectual benefits are to be rejected. Both the radical subjectivism of the Austrian school and Dewey's transactional strategy justify rejection of the mirage of social justice. Dewey's knowledge as ways of knowing suggests a broader and more fundamental critique of the socialist position in the calculation debate. The arguments presented by the Austrian school can be reformulated in terms of Dewey's pragmatic philosophy. (shrink)
A neglected critique of social science laboratories alleges that they implement phenomena different to those supposedly under investigation. The critique purports to be conceptual and so invulnerable to a technical solution. I argue that it undermines some economics designs seeking to implement features of real societies, and counsels more modesty in experimental write?ups. It also constitutes a plausible argument that laboratory economics experiments are necessarily less demonstrative than natural scientific ones. More radical sceptical conclusions are unwarranted.
To understand the human capacity for psychological altruism, one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the possible relevance of recent findings in experimental economics and neuroeconomics to the philosophical controversy over altruism and egoism. After briefly sketching and contextualizing the controversy, we survey and discuss the results of various studies on behaviourally altruistic helping and punishing behaviour, which provide stimulating clues for the debate over psychological altruism. On closer analysis, these studies (...) prove less relevant than originally expected because the data obtained admit competing interpretations – such as people seeking fairness versus people seeking revenge. However, this mitigated conclusion does not preclude the possibility of more fruitful research in the area in the future. Throughout our analysis, we provide hints for the direction of future research on the question. (shrink)
The paper discusses the sense in which the changes undergone by normative economics in the twentieth century can be said to be progressive. A simple criterion is proposed to decide whether a sequence of normative theories is progressive. This criterion is put to use on the historical transition from the new welfare economics to social choice theory. The paper reconstructs this classic case, and eventually concludes that the latter theory was progressive compared with the former. It also briefly (...) comments on the recent developments in normative economics and their connection with the previous two stages. (Published Online April 18 2006) Footnotes1 This paper suspersedes an earlier one entitled “Is There Progress in Normative Economics?” (Mongin 2002). I thank the organizers of the Fourth ESHET Conference (Graz 2000) for the opportunity they gave me to lecture on this topic. Thanks are also due to J. Alexander, K. Arrow, A. Bird, R. Bradley, M. Dascal, W. Gaertner, N. Gravel, D. Hausman, B. Hill, C. Howson, N. McClennen, A. Trannoy, J. Weymark, J. Worrall, two annonymous referees of this journal, and especially the editor M. Fleurbaey, for helpful comments. The editor's suggestions contributed to determine the final orientation of the paper. The author is grateful to the LSE and the Lachmann Foundation for their support at the time when he was writing the initial version. (shrink)
Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behavioural dispositions. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, no less existent than the unobservable entities and properties in the natural sciences, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has long gone out of fashion in psychology and linguistics, it remains influential in economics, especially in `revealed preference' theory. We aim to (i) clear up some common (...) confusions about the two views, (ii) situate the debate in a historical context, and (iii) defend a mentalist approach to economics. Setting aside normative concerns about behaviourism, we show that mentalism is in line with best scientific practice even if economics is treated as a purely positive science of economic behaviour. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of people's brain processes, as distinct from their mental states. (shrink)
From a pre-publication review by the late Austrian economist, Don Lavoie, of George Mason University: -/- "The book's radical re-interpretation of property and contract is, I think, among the most powerful critiques of mainstream economics ever developed. It undermines the neoclassical way of thinking about property by articulating a theory of inalienable rights, and constructs out of this perspective a "labor theory of property" which is as different from Marx's labor theory of value as it is from neoclassicism. (...) It traces roots of such ideas in some fascinating and largely forgotten strands of the history of economics. It draws attention to the question of "responsibility" which neoclassicism has utterly lost sight of. It is startlingly fresh in its overall approach, and unusually well written in its presentation. ... It constitutes a better case for its economic democracy viewpoint than anything else in the literature." . (shrink)
McCarthy develops a theory of radical interpretation--the project of characterizing from scratch the language and attitudes of an agent or population--and applies it to the problems of indeterminacy of interpretation first described by Quine. The major theme in McCarthy's study is that a relatively modest set of interpretive principles, properly applied, can serve to resolve the major indeterminacies of interpretation.
This is a comprehensive anthology of works concerning the nature of economics as a science, including classic texts and essays exploring specific branches and schools of economics. Apart from the classics, most of the selections in the third edition are new, as are the introduction and bibliography. No other anthology spans the whole field and offers a comprehensive introduction to questions about economic methodology.
If you want a philosophically diligent exposition of a theory, something that has got through review by conventional peers, go elsewhere (Honderich, 2004). If you want an understanding made more immediate by brevity and informality, read on. The theory is a Radical Externalism about the nature of consciousness. If it is not a complete departure from the cranialism of most of the philosophy and science of consciousness, it is a fundamental departure.
The principal findings of experimental economics are that impersonal exchange in markets converges in repeated interaction to the equilibrium states implied by economic theory, under information conditions far weaker than specified in the theory. In personal, social, and economic exchange, as studied in two-person games, cooperation exceeds the prediction of traditional game theory. This book relates these two findings to field studies and applications and integrates them with the main themes of the Scottish Enlightenment and with the thoughts of (...) F. A. Hayek. (shrink)
There is an increasingly widespread belief, both within and outside the discipline, that modern economics is irrelevant to the understanding of the real world. Economics and Reality traces this irrelevance to the failure of economists to match their methods with their subject, showing that formal, mathematical models are unsuitable to the social realities economists purport to address. Tony Lawson examines the various ways in which mainstream economics is rooted in positivist philosophy and examines the problems this causes. (...) It focuses on human agency, social structure and their interaction and explores how the understanding of this social phenomena can be used to transform the nature of economic practice. Economics and Reality concludes by showing how this newly transformed economics might set about shaping economic policy. (shrink)
The paper analyses economic evaluations by distinguishing evaluative statements from actual value judgments. From this basis, it compares four solutions to the value neutrality problem in economics. After rebutting the strong theses about neutrality (normative economics is illegitimate) and non-neutrality (the social sciences are value-impregnated), the paper settles the case between the weak neutrality thesis (common in welfare economics) and a novel, weak non-neutrality thesis that extends the realm of normative economics more widely than the other (...) weak thesis does. (shrink)
Economics today cannot predict the likely outcome of specific events any better than it could in the time of Adam Smith. This is Alexander Rosenberg's controversial challenge to the scientific status of economics. Rosenberg explains that the defining characteristic of any science is predictive improvability--the capacity to create more precise forecasts by evaluating the success of earlier predictions--and he forcefully argues that because economics has not been able to increase its predictive power for over two centuries, it (...) is not a science. (shrink)
Many economic problems are also ethical problems: should we value economic equality? how much should we care about preserving the environment? how should medical resources be divided between saving life and enhancing life? This book examines some of the practical issues that lie between economics and ethics, and shows how utility theory can contribute to ethics. John Broome's work has, unusually, combined sophisticated economic and philosophical expertise, and Ethics Out of Economics brings together some of his most important (...) essays, augmented with a new introduction. The first group of essays deals with the relation between preference and value, the second with various questions about the formal structure of good, and the concluding section with the value of life. This work is of interest and importance for both economists and philosophers, and shows powerfully how economic methods can contribute to moral philosophy. (shrink)
This is a comprehensive anthology of works concerning the nature of economics as a science, including classic texts and essays exploring specific branches and schools of economics. Apart from the classics, most of the selections in the third edition are new, as are the introduction and bibliography. No other anthology spans the whole field and offers a comprehensive introduction to questions about economic methodology.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics is a cutting-edge reference work to philosophical issues in the practice of economics. It is motivated by the view that there is more to economics than general equilibrium theory, and that the philosophy of economics should reflect the diversity of activities and topics that currently occupy economists. Contributions in the Handbook are thus closely tied to ongoing theoretical and empirical concerns in economics. Contributors include both philosophers of science (...) and economists. Chapters fall into three general categories: received views in philosophy of economics, ongoing controversies in microeconomics, and issues in modeling, macroeconomics, and development. Specific topics include methodology, game theory, experimental economics, behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, computational economics, data mining, interpersonal comparisons of utility, measurement of welfare and well being, growth theory and development, and microfoundations of macroeconomics. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics is a groundbreaking reference like no other in its field. It is a central resource for those wishing to learn about the philosophy of economics, and for those who actively engage in the discipline, from advanced undergraduates to professional philosophers, economists, and historians. (shrink)
The term neoclassical economics delineates a distinct and relatively homogenous school of thought in economic theory that became prominent in the late nineteenth century and that now dominates mainstream economics. The term was originally introduced by Thorstein Veblen to describe developments in the discipline (of which Veblen did not entirely approve) associated with the work of such figures as William Jevons, Carl Menger, and Leon Walras. The ambition of these figures, the first neoclassicists, was to formalize and mathematize (...) the subject in the aftermath of the so-called marginalist revolution. Economics is, according to one definition, the science that studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means that have alternative uses. Neoclassical economics pursues this study by means of supply and demand models that determine prices based on the subjective preferences of producers and consumers. Neoclassical economics relies on subjective preferences for determining prices in order to escape from the so-called objective value theory of classical economics, according to which the value of goods could be established by reference to some basic commodity (usually corn) or the labor input required to produce a good. Neoclassicists hoped that by jettisoning objective value, economics could be placed on a more scientific basis as an essentially descriptive and predictive theory of human behavior. Political theory, by contrast, involves both positive and normative elements. It is a positive science to the extent to which it aims to describe and predict political behavior. It is a normative science to the extent to which it prescribes how agents should behave in the political arena and what the best political institutions are. Neoclassical economics is relevant to both of these elements. (shrink)
Feminist economists have demonstrated that interrogating hierarchies based on gender, ethnicity, class and nation results in an economics that is biased and more faithful to empirical evidence than are mainstream accounts. This rigorous and comprehensive book examines many of the central philosophical questions and themes in feminist economics including: · History of economics · Feminist science studies · Identity and agency · Caring labor · Postcolonialism and postmodernism With contributions from such leading figures as Nancy Folbre, Julie (...) Nelson and Sandra Harding, Toward a Feminist Theory of Economics looks set to become the book on feminist economics for some time to come and will be greatly appreciated by all those interested in gender studies, economic methodology and social theory. (shrink)
The primary aim of the text is to introduce the reader to the relationship between economics and ethics and to the application of economic ethics in the evaluation of the market. The reader will gain insight into: * The ethical and methodological strategy of economics and criticism of the core assumptions that underpin the economic defense of free market operation. * The characteristics of different ethical theories (utilitarianism, duty and rights ethics, justice and virtue ethics) that can be (...) used to evaluate the free market. * How to apply economics in conjunction with ethical theories to evaluate economic trends and policies that promote the free operation of the market and are subject to public debate. These insights will help to develop the reasoning and analytical skills needed to criticize economic analysis as well as to apply ethical concepts to moral issues in economic policy. (shrink)
Introduction : ethical economics? -- The sovereign consumer -- Two myths about economic growth -- The politics of pay -- Happiness -- Pricing life and nature -- New worlds of money : public services and beyond -- Conclusion.
Deirdre McCloskey is rightly one of the most recognizable names in economics. She views economics as a language that uses all the rhetorical devices of everyday conversation and therefore it should be judged by aesthetic and literary standards and not the criteria of mathematical rigor that is espoused by the mainstream. This controversial standpoint has been hugely influential and this examination of the methodological and philosophical consequences of her work is overdue, and very welcome.
The focus here is Robert L. Heilbroner's critique, in the last chapter of the 7th edition of The Worldly Philosophers, of the idea that economics is, or should be, scientific. Heilbroner's conception of economics as essentially tied to capitalism is too narrow, and at odds with his own commentary on the rise of pauperism after the English common-land enclosures; and his critique of contemporary economics-as-social science is overdrawn. Nevertheless, there is indeed an important role for the “visionary” (...)economics for which Heilbroner hankers: assessing the benefits and drawbacks of different ways of ordering the production and distribution of goods and services. (shrink)
There is a growing perception among economists that their field is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to its disregard for reality. Critical realism addresses the failure of mainstream economics to explain economic reality and proposes an alternative approach. This book debates the relative strengths and weaknesses of critical realism, in the hopes of developing a more fruitful and relevant socio-economic ontology and methodology. With contributions from some of the leading authorities in economic philosophy, it includes the work of theorists critical (...) of this approach. In the first part, contributors develop and deepen economics as a realist social theory by considering the work of individuals, various schools of thought, socio- economic phenomena and methodology. In the second part, contributors weigh the strengths and weaknesses of critical realism. (shrink)
This intriguing new book examines and analyses the role of critical realism in economics and specifically how this line of thought can be applied to the real world. With contributions from such varying commentators as Sheila Dow, Wendy Olsen and Fred Lee, this new book is unique in its approach and will be of great interest to both economic methodologists and those involved in applied economic studies.
This paper develops an account of evolutionary progress for use in the field of evolutionary economics. Previous work is surveyed and a new account set out, based on the idea of evolvability as it has been used recently in evolutionary developmental biology. The biological underpinnings of this idea are explained using examples of a series of phenomena that influence the evolvability of biological systems. It is further argued that selection pressures and developmental processes are sufficiently similar to make this (...) biological concept useful in economics. The new account is defended against a number of common objections to the notion of progress in evolving systems, including the claim that all stipulated measures of evolutionary progress are essentially arbitrary. It is argued that progress, understood as an increase in evolvability over time, is both philosophically well-justified and provides useful predictive and explanatory resources to those seeking to understand and manipulate evolving economic systems. (shrink)
This paper sheds light on the main issue of this book by affording a side look at a discipline other than economics, namely political theory. It is argued that the contemporary debate in political theory hinges on the question of 'realism'. Through a discussion of Raymond Geuss's work, the paper seeks to show that political theory remains caught between the conflicting requirements of deep contextual analysis and radically critical engagement with the world 'as it is'. Finally, the idea of (...) a 'division of labour' between contextualist and critical approaches to political theory is introduced. (shrink)
In Ethics, Economics, and Politics Ian Little returns to offer a new defence of a rule-based utilitarianism as a basis for assessing the role of the State. Lucidly and elegantly he explains how the three disiplines of philosophy, economics and politics can be integrated to provide guidance on issues of public policy.
This book introduces the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant—in particular, the concepts of autonomy, dignity, and character—to economic theory, explaining the importance of integrating these two streams of intellectual thought. Mainstream economics is rooted in classical utilitarianism, recommending that decision makers choose the options that are expected to generate the largest net benefits. For individuals, the standard economic model fails to incorporate the role of principles in decision-making, and also denies the possibility of true choice, which can be independent (...) of preferences and principles altogether. For policymakers, standard decision-making frameworks recommend tradeoffs that are beneficial in terms of material goods or wealth, but may be morally questionable from a more person-centered perspective. Integrating Kantian ethics affects economics in three important ways. This integration allows for a more complete understanding of human choice, incorporating not just preferences and constraints, but also principles and strength of will or character. It demonstrates the broader impact of welfare economics, which generates policies that affect not only persons' well-being, but also their dignity and autonomy. Finally, it reconciles the traditional, individualist stance in economic models of choice with the social responsibility emphasized by many systems of philosophical ethics and heterodox schools of economics. (shrink)
The notion of radical evil plays a more important role in Kant's moral theory than is typically recognized. In Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason, radical evil is both an innate propensity and a morally imputable act – a paradoxical status that has prompted commentators to reject it as inconsistent with the rest of Kant's moral theory. In contrast, I argue that the notion of radical evil accounts for the beginning of moral responsibility in Kant's theory, (...) since the act of attributing radical evil to one's freedom is an inauguration into the autonomous stance. (shrink)
Suggests that genuine discovery in the context of qualitative research implies a distance between what is seen in the phenomenological sense and what has already been described. The ingenuity of William James's descriptions of hitherto undescribed aspects of everyday experience are rooted in an openness to seeing that characterizes his "radical empiricism." James was a pathfinder and explorer who did introspection and discovered the phenomena of transitive consciousness. The concepts of seeing as the mode of discovery, problematics of the (...) intentionality principle, James's radical empiricism, reflection and post-reflective seeing, objectless consciousness and insight, and transforming intentional consciousness are discussed. Buddhist meditative disciplines aimed at the development of insight, rather than altered states of consciousness, offer systematic methods for cultivating this openness and for the facilitation of genuine discovery. (shrink)
In launching modern economics, Adam Smith paved the way for laissez-faire capitalism, Marxism, and contemporary social science. This book scrutinizes Smith's disparagement of politics and religion to illuminate the subtlety of his rhetoric, the depth of his thought, and the ultimate shortcomings of his project. The author analyzes Smith's ideas on government, justice, human psychology, and international relations, stressing Smith's efforts to elevate wealth at the expense of citizenship and to replace normative political philosophy with historical theorizing and empirical (...) modeling that emphasize economic causes. The book also provides the most comprehensive interpretation available of Smith's views on religion, examining the discrepancies between The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The concluding chapter appraises the demise of communism in light of the Marxian emancipation of economics from politics and religion. (shrink)
Focusing on the work of Friedrich von Hayek and Vernon Smith, we discuss some conceptual links between Austrian economics and recent work in behavioral game theory and experimental economics. After a brief survey of the main methodological aspects of Austrian and experimental economics, we suggest that common views on subjectivism, individualism, and the role of qualitative explanations and predictions in social science may favour a fruitful interaction between these two research programs.
The Philosophy of Economics is the first work to seriously and successfully bridge twentieth-century economics and twentieth-century philosophy. Subroto Roy draws these two disciplines together and examines the basic intellectual roots of economics. This is also the first work by an economist to employ the writings of Wittgenstein and to tackle seriously the import of modern philosophy for economic thought. Unlike others in the field, Roy discusses not only the contributions of Popper, Kuhn, and Lakatos but also (...) those of Frege, Moore, and Wittgenstein, as well as Plato and Aristotle. (shrink)
Out of the Margin is the first book to consider feminist concerns across the whole domain of economics. In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in interest on the relation between gender and economics. Feminists have found much of concern in the way the economics has written women out of its history, built its theories around masculinist values, failed to take proper account of women and their work when measuring the economy and ignored most of (...) the policy issues that press most heavily upon women. This book is a firm rejection of this marginalized position. Including contributions from leading feminist economists from the US and Europe, the book offers a richness of new insights in addressing the absence of women, both as subject and object, in the history of economic thought. Out of the Margin also explores the philosophical roots of rational economic man, power relations and conflicts within the family, the limitations of relying on secondary data, the need for new data and research, the policy implications of neo-classical economic models and the need for fundamental research in policy making. With its range and depth of coverage, this is not only an excellent introduction to the field but also indispensible for anyone looking for an in-depth analysis of gender and economics. (shrink)
Hermeneutics has become a major topic of debate throughout the scholarly community. What has been called the "interpretive turn" has led to interesting new approaches in both the human and social sciences, and has helped to transform divided disciplines by bringing them closer together. Yet one of the largest and most important social sciences economics has so far been almost completely left out of the transformation. Economics and Hermeneutics takes a significant step towards filling this gap by introducing (...) scholars on both sides of the divide to ways that hermeneutics might help economists address some of their most important problems. Among the topics addressed are entrepreneurship, price theory, rational expectations, monetary theory, welfare economics, and economic policy. The approaches to economics represented include the Austrian school, McCloskey's "rhetoric" approach, Marxian critical theory and institutionalism. (shrink)
Now that complex Agent-Based Models and computer simulations spread over economics and social sciences - as in most sciences of complex systems -, epistemological puzzles (re)emerge. We introduce new epistemological concepts so as to show to what extent authors are right when they focus on some empirical, instrumental or conceptual significance of their model or simulation. By distinguishing between models and simulations, between types of models, between types of computer simulations and between types of empiricity obtained through a simulation, (...) section 2 gives the possibility to understand more precisely - and then to justify - the diversity of the epistemological positions presented in section 1. Our final claim is that careful attention to the multiplicity of the denotational powers of symbols at stake in complex models and computer simulations is necessary to determine, in each case, their proper epistemic status and credibility. (shrink)
Recent pleas for more heterodoxy in explaining economic action have been defending a pluralism for economics. In this article, I analyse these defences by scrutinizing the pluralistic qualities in the work of one of the major voices of heterodoxy, Tony Lawson. This scrutiny will focus on Lawson's alternatives concerning ontology and explanation to mainstream economics. Subsequently, I will raise some doubts about Lawson's pluralism, and identify questions that will have to be addressed by heterodox economists in order to (...) maintain the claim of pluralism. (shrink)
Much existing economic theory overlooks ethics. Rather than situating the market and values at separate extremes of a continuum, Ethics and the Market contends that the two are necessarily and intimately related. This volume brings together some of the best work in the social economics tradition, with contributions on the social economy, social capital, identity, ethnicity and development, the household, externalities, international finance, capability, and pedagogy. Proceeding from an examination of the moral implications of markets, the book goes on (...) to explore such themes as the institutional arrangements of social economies, individual and household decision-making, and economic development in a global context. Ethics and the Market illuminates the diverse and dynamic theoretical approaches that are employed in social economics, reflecting on their continuously evolving relationship with neoclassical economics. This book will prove vital reading for students and academics in the fields of Economics, Sociology, Gender Studies, and Public Policy. (shrink)
The concept of the individual and his/her motivations is a bedrock of philosophy. All strands of thought at heart contain to a particular theory of the individual. Economics, though, is guilty of taking this hugely important concept without questioning how we theorize it. This superb book remedies this oversight. The new approach put forward by Davies is to pay more attention to what moral philosophy may offer us in the study of personal identity, self consciousness and will. This crosses (...) the traditional boundaries of economics and will shed new light on the distinction between positive and normative analysis in economics. With both heterodox and orthodox economics receiving a thorough analysis from Davies, this book is at once inclusive and revealing. (shrink)
Serious re-examination of participatory traditions of democracy is long overdue. Iconically central to such traditions of democratic education is the practice of whole School Meetings. More usually associated with radical work within the private sector, School Meetings are here explored in detail through two examples from publicly funded education, (1) Epping House School, a mixed residential primary/elementary school for students with severe emotional, social and behavioural difficulties and (2) secondary/high schools within the Just Community School movement in the USA. (...) In addition to providing richly textured accounts of the multiple realities and challenges of pioneering overtly democratic practices such as School Meetings within the publicly funded sector of education substantial attention is paid to analytic engagement with the kind of organisational structures, practices and cultures that seem to play an important role in their successful operation and development. The different phenomenological and theoretical strands weaving their way through the texture of Meeting practices also raise a number of key issues within the fields of social and political philosophy, in particular, whether School Meetings are best understood as predominantly political or communal phenomena. In gesturing towards the philosophical groundwork of a satisfactory answer I argue for the importance of the undeservedly neglected notion of democratic fellowship within the lexicon of democratic polity and aspiration. (shrink)
Research in the social sciences received generous patronage in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Research was widely perceived as providing solutions to emerging social problems. That generosity came under increased contest in the late 1970s. Although these trends held true for all of the social sciences, this essay explores the various ways by which economists in particular reacted to and resisted the patronage cuts that were proposed in the first budgets of the Reagan administration. Economists’ response was three fold: (...) to engage in joint lobbying with other social scientists, to tap into their authority as a respected policy player, and to influence the types of research financed by the patron. With interviews of the former lobbyist for the social scientists, the former director of the Economics program for the National Science Foundation, and a review of the archival records of economists and their scholarly society, we discuss how economists have claimed entitlement to patronage in the closing decades of the twentieth century. We observe a dynamic and productive relationship between politicians and researchers mediated by the National Science Foundation, where civil servants, lobbyist and public minded scientists, and self-serving grantees trade roles. (shrink)
The beliefs of economists are not solely determined by empirical evidence in direct relation to the theories and models they hold. Economists hold 'ontological presuppositions', fundamental ideas about the nature of being which direct their thinking about economic behaviour. In this volume, leading philosophers and economists examine these hidden presuppositions, searching for a 'world view' of economics. What properties are attributed to human individuals in economic theories, and which are excluded? Does economic man exist? Do markets have an essence? (...) Do macroeconomic aggregates exist? Is the economy a mechanism, the functioning of which is governed by a limited set of distinct causes? What are the methodological implications of different ontological starting points? This collection, which establishes economic ontology as a coordinated field of study, will be of great value to economists and philosophers of social sciences. (shrink)
Economists and other social scientists in this century have often supported economic arguments by referring to positions taken by philosophers of science. This important new book looks at the reliability of this practice and, in the process, provides economists, social scientists, and historians with the necessary background to discuss methodological matters with authority. Redman first presents an accurate, critical, yet neutral survey of the modern philosophy of science from the Vienna Circle to the present, focusing particularly on logical positivism, sociological (...) explanations of science (Polanyi, Fleck, Kuhn), the Popper family, and the history of science. She then deals with economic methodology in the twentieth century, looking at a wide range of methodological positions, especially those supported by positions from the philosophy of science. She considers the myth of the feasibility of falsification in economics and, within the context of its significance for economics, discusses the interpretation of Kuhn's philosophy of science as consensus and the danger such a view represents to science. Appendices review the history of the is-ought dispute and list economists whose first works deal with methodological topics. Comprehensive, readable, and accessible to those with little background knowledge, Redman's book will appeal to a wide range of social scientists and philosophers of science. (shrink)
We discuss in this paper the scope of abduction in Economics. The literature on this type of inference shows that it can be interpreted in different ways, according to the role and nature of its outcome. We present a formal model that allows to capture these various meanings in different economic contexts.
"Written in a racy, persuasive style, the book impresses the reader as a work of significant scholarship...I encourage students of comparative religions- and especially those of Islamic economics- to read it with great care."&$151; Islamic Studies The worlds of economics and theology rarely intersect. The former appears occupied exclusively with the concrete equations of supply and demand, while the latter revolves largely around the less tangible concerns of the soul and spirit. Intended as an interfaith clarification of the (...) relationship between the material and the spiritual worlds, this volume first inspects secular beliefs about the relationship between economics and ethics. Exploring the differences and similarities between the treatment of economic issues in each of the great monotheistic religions, Rodney Wilson reveals how each tradition considers such subjects as individual wealth, lending, economic regulation, usury, insurance capitalism, socialism, and banking. He concludes with an intriguing epilogue on the rapidly expanding field of business ethics. (shrink)
Hunting Causes and Using Them argues that causation is not one thing, as commonly assumed, but many. There is a huge variety of causal relations, each with different characterizing features, different methods for discovery and different uses to which it can be put. In this collection of new and previously published essays, Nancy Cartwright provides a critical survey of philosophical and economic literature on causality, with a special focus on the currently fashionable Bayes-nets and invariance methods – and it exposes (...) a huge gap in that literature. Almost every account treats either exclusively how to hunt causes or how to use them. But where is the bridge between? It’s no good knowing how to warrant a causal claim if we don’t know what we can do with that claim once we have it. This book will interest philosophers, economists and social scientists. (shrink)
In ‘Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason’ Kant presents his thesis that human nature is ‘radically evil’. To be radically evil is to have a propensity toward moral frailty, impurity and even perversity. Kant claims that all humans are ‘by nature’ radically evil. By presenting counter-examples of moral saints, I argue that not all humans are morally corrupt, even if most are. Even so, the possibility of moral failure is central to what makes us human.
This book presents fifteen essays, written over the past dozen years, on egalitarianism. The essays explore contemporary philosophical debates on this subject, using the tools of modern economic theory, general equilibrium theory, game theory, and the theory of mechanism design. Egalitarian Perspectives is divided into four parts: the theory of exploitation; equality of resources; bargaining theory and distributive justice; and market socialism and public ownership. The first part presents Roemer's influential reconceptualisation of the Marxian theory of exploitation as a theory (...) of distributive justice. The second part offers a critique of Ronald Dworkin's equality-of-resources theory, and puts forward a new egalitarian proposal based upon a specific method of measuring individual responsibility. The third part introduces a novel application of the theory of mechanism design to the study of political philosophy, and raises new concerns about the limitations of that application. The fourth part presents the author's views on market socialism and public ownership, and demonstrates that Professor Roemer is at the forefront of refining new theories and conceptions of market socialism. (shrink)
With an aim to bring caring back into economic theory, this work draws upon the work of Aristotle and Amartya Sen's notions of capability and commitment, to propose an alternative methodology to utilitarianism that is not normative.
Since economies are dynamic processes driven by creativity, social norms, and emotions as well as rational calculation, why do economists largely study them using static equilibrium models and narrow rationalistic assumptions? Economic activity is as much a function of imagination and social sentiments as of the rational optimisation of given preferences and goods. Richard Bronk argues that economists can best model and explain these creative and social aspects of markets by using new structuring assumptions and metaphors derived from the poetry (...) and philosophy of the Romantics. By bridging the divide between literature and science, and between Romanticism and narrow forms of Rationalism, economists can access grounding assumptions, models, and research methods suitable for comprehending the creativity and social dimensions of economic activity. This is a guide to how economists and other social scientists can broaden their analytical repertoire to encompass the vital role of sentiments, language, and imagination. (shrink)
Bringing together some of the leading figures in the field of economic methodology and philosophy, this collection provides a thoughtful and balanced overview of the current state of debate about the status of economic knowledge. Representing the most current thinking on a topic of enduring interest to economists and philosophers and other social scientists, the book is notable for the extent to which authors from opposing schools of thought engage seriously with their opponents.
Providing health care in the most cost-effective way has become a priority in recent years. This book tackles the important issue of the potential conflict between economic expediency and the welfare of individual patients. Contributors examine different attitudes to this complex problem, along with a variety of legal and historical perspectives. The book addresses particular aspects of health care, such as medical expert systems, general practice, medical education, and clinical decision-making where the direct involvement of doctors in allocating scarce and (...) expensive resources is perhaps most obvious. (shrink)
Human agency -- Alienness : experiencing one's own incoherence -- Alienness, understanding, and self-deception -- God's project of self-deception -- Alienation and political agency -- How we fooled ourselves into believing in progress -- The monetary illusion -- The good life and economic activity -- Human activity : a molecular approach to action theory.
The concept of preference dominates economic theory today. It performs a triple duty for economists, grounding their theories of individual behavior, welfare, and rationality. Microeconomic theory assumes that individuals act so as to maximize their utility – that is, to maximize the degree to which their preferences are satisfied. Welfare economics defines individual welfare in terms of preference satisfaction or utility, and social welfare as a function of individual preferences. Finally, economists assume that the rational act is the act (...) that maximally satisfies an individual's preferences. The habit of framing problems in terms of the concept of preference is now so entrenched that economists rarely entertain alternatives. (shrink)
Professor Honderich presents his account of consciousness boldly and informally, and his presentation merits a response in similar terms. I conceive of this response as simply the first move in a conversation, in the course of which misunderstandings might be removed and, just possibly, criticisms sharpened, and positions modified. I want to concentrate on two questions that his very interesting paper prompts me to ask. The first question is; what exactly is the thesis about consciousness that Professor Honderich is proposing? (...) The second question is; what are the main reasons he has for his proposal and are they persuasive? Although there are two questions, I shall mix considerations of them together in a way which I hope it is possible to follow. (shrink)
In "Behavioral Law and Economics: The Assault on Consent, Will, and Dignity," Mark D. White uses the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant to examine the intersection of economics, psychology, and law known as "behavioral law and economics." Scholars in this relatively new field claim that, because of various cognitive biases and failures, people often make choices that are not in their own interests. The policy implications of this are that public and private organizations, such as the state (...) and employers, can and should design the presentation of options and default choices in order to "steer" people to the decision they would make, were they able to make choices in the absence of their cognitive biases and failures. Such policies are promoted under the name "libertarian paternalism," because choice is not blocked or co-opted, but simply "nudged." White argues that such manipulation of choice is impossible to conduct in people's true interests, and any other goal pursed by policymakers substitutes their own ends, however benevolent they may be, for people's true ends. Normatively, such manipulation should not be conducted because it fails to respect the dignity and autonomy of persons, what some hold to be the central idea in Kant's ethical system, and which serves to protect the individual from coercion, however subtle, from other persons or the state. (shrink)
Following Amartya Sen’s insistence to expand the framework of rational choice theory by taking into account ‘non-utility information,’ economists, political scientists and philosophers have recently concentrated their efforts in analysing the issues related to rights, freedom, diversity intentions and equality. Thomas Boylan and Ruvin Gekker have gathered essays that reflect this trend. The particular themes addressed in this volume include: the measurement of diversity and freedom, formal analysis of individual rights and intentions, judgment aggregation under constraints and strategic manipulation in (...) fuzzy environments. Some papers in the volume also deal with philosophical aspects of normative social choice. (shrink)
In a series of insightful publications, Philip Pettit and Frank Jackson have argued for an explanatory ecumenism that is designed to justify a variety of types of social scientific explanation of different “grains”, including structural and rational choice explanations. Their arguments are put in terms of different kinds of explanatory information; the distinction between causal efficacy, causal relevance and explanatory relevance within their program model of explanation; and virtual reality and resilience explanation. The arguments are here assessed from the point (...) of view of the illumination they are able to cast on the issue of economics imperialism, the project of privileging rational choice as a unifying basis for explanations. While the Jackson–Pettit arguments turn out to be helpful in specifying some of the ontological and pragmatic constraints on economics imperialism, they are also shown to conflate distinct dimensions in the purported explanantia (such as small grain and particular grain, and the macro and the existentially quantified) and thereby to miss an important class of individualist causal process explanations of social phenomena. (shrink)
This article considers the implications of complex systems models for the study of economics and the evaluation of public policies. I argue that complexity can enhance current approaches to formal economic analysis, but does so in ways that complement current approaches. I further argue that while complexity can influence how public policy analysis is conducted, it does not delimit the use of consequentialist approaches to policy comparison to the degree initially suggested by Hayek and most recently defended by Gaus.
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 concept of equilibrium has long been a focus for dissent between orthodox and heterodox schools of thought in economics. The paper explores the meanings of ‘equilibrium’ and attempts to tease apart salient appropriate and inappropriate modes of deployment of the concept. Under far-from-equilibrium conditions, equilibrium is not even an approximate description of the condition of the system, but an abstraction – a state of affairs which might obtain should a process under consideration run to its conclusion. The order (...) of the system is viewed from this standpoint, not as an equilibrium, but as a temporary and ephemeral balance of forces, destined to be disturbed by the passage of time. A specific instance of the deployment of the concept of equilibrium by a neoclassical writer – Robert Lucas – is examined and the conclusion drawn that the concept has been hypostatised: an aspect of a process has been one-sidedly emphasised and substituted for the whole. The temporary is made permanent, and process subordinated to stasis, with clear apologetic results. The paper concludes by suggesting that this hypostatisation exemplifies the contrast between formal and dialectical modes of thought, and that it is in the application of a dialectical notion of equilibrium that the heterodoxy can make its most telling contribution. (shrink)
We first survey the Catholic social justice tradition, the foundation on which Caritas in Veritate builds. Then we discuss Benedict’s addition of love to the philosophical virtues (as applied to economics), and how radical a change that makes to an ethical perspective on economics. We emphasise the reality of the interpersonal aspects of present-day economic exchanges, using insights from two disciplines that have recognized that reality, human resources and marketing. Finally, we examine the prospects for an (...) class='Hi'>economics of gratuitousness at a level higher than the individual, that is, for businesses devoted to social ends more than profit. (shrink)
Controversies in economics often fizzle out unresolved. One reason is that, despite their professed empiricism, economists find it hard to agree on the interpretation of the relevant empirical evidence. In this paper I will present an example of a controversial issue first raised and then solved by recourse to laboratory experimentation. A major theme of this paper, then, concerns the methodological advantages of controlled experiments. The second theme is the nature of experimental artefacts and of the methods devised to (...) detect them. Recent studies of experimental science have stressed that experimenters are often merely concerned about determining whether a certain phenomeonon exists or not, or whether, when, and where it can be produced, without necessarily engaging in proving or disproving any theoretical explanation of the phenomenon itself. In this paper I shall be concerned mainly with such a case, and focus on the example of preference reversals, a phenomenon whose existence was until quite recently denied by the majority of economists. Their favourite strategy consisted in trying to explain the phenomenon away as an artefact of the experimental techniques used to observe it. By controlled experimentation, as we shall see, such an interpretation has been discredited, and now preference reversals are generally accepted as real. The problem of distinguishing an artefact from a real phenomenon is related to methodological issues traditionally discussed by philosophers of science, such as the theory-ladenness of observation and Duhem's problem. Part of this paper is devoted to clarifying these two philosophical problems, and to arguing that only the latter is relevant to the case in hand. The solutions to Duhem's problem devised by economic experimentalists will be presented and discussed. I shall show that they belong in two broad categories: independent tests of new predictions derived from the competing hypotheses at stake, and ‘no-miracle arguments’ from different experimental techniques delivering converging results despite their being theoretically independent. (shrink)
This paper responds to Professor John McMurtry, primarily to his critique (Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 44, 2003) of my recent book, Economics as Moral Science (Springer-Verlag, 2001). Although agreeing with my attribution of a moral a priorism to orthodox or neo-classical economics, McMurtry takes issue with my conversion thesis, that ana priori, ethically committed theory can be transformed into a testable empirical science of actual behaviour through the application of institutional constraints to individual motivations. McMurtry views such (...) a thesis as logically possible but morally abhorrent. In so doing, he ascribes a version of economic determinism to me which, he claims, leads me to mistakenly understand the neo-classical paradigm as circumscribing the boundaries of reality itself and thereby entrenching the life-destructive values presupposed by this paradigm. I reject such a reading of Economics as Moral Science and explain the manner in which it is inconsistent both with the theoretical substance and practical agenda of my work. I propose that the irreducible basis of disagreement remains one wherein I believe that a more radical reform of the capitalist market order is mandatory to establish more defensible moral ideals than does McMurtry. My reply closes by recommending a constitutional partitioning of material goods such that we may more securely act outside the ethical constraints of neo-classical theory. (shrink)
Conflicts of interest serve as a cipher for a radical rupture in the Flexnerian paradigm of medicine, and they can only be addressed if we recognize that health care is now practiced by institutions, not just individual physicians. By showing how "appropriate utilization of services" or "that which is medically indicated" is a function of socioeconomic factors related to institutional responsibilities, I point toward an administrative and organizational ethic as a needed component for addressing conflicts of interest. The argument (...) is developed by reviewing three important books. First, I consider Mark Rodwin's attempt to configure the economic structures of medicine so that classical fiduciary and scientific ideals can be fostered. Second, I consider E. Haavi Morreim's attempt to modify the classical ideals in order to account for new economic realities. Finally, by considering essays in a recent volume on conflicts of interest edited by Spece, Shimm, and Buchanan, I argue for a constructive dialectic between the approaches of Rodwin and Morreim. In order to properly address conflicts of interest, there must be a radical reassessment of medicine that accounts for the interrelation between scientific, ethical, and economic concerns. Until institutions come into view and professional ethics is developed to account for their role, legitimate interests and obligations of diverse parties cannot be harmonized. (shrink)
"Space," William James confessed, "is [both] a direfully difficult subject [and the] driest of subjects.'" Nonetheless, convinced that most previous accounts of space were either incoherent or mythological, he set out to describe space as it is actually experienced. His first effort, "The Spatial Quale," appeared in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1879. 2 This article is historically important; as Ralph Barton Perry notes, "his peculiar view of the amplitude and eonnectedness of experience seems to have begun with the (...) application to space. ''3 But, despite this fact, it is seldom read today. It was not reprinted in James's Collected Essays and Reviews because the editor found "no important difference" between the content of this article and that of the chapter in The Principles of Psychology dealing with the same topic. 4 And it has not been included in more recent anthologies of James's writings. James would undoubtedly have concurred with the reasoning behind these editorial decisions. In the preface to the Psychology he wrote: Chapter 20, on Space-perception, is a terrible thing, which, unless written with all that detail, could not be fairly treated at all. An abridgment of it, called The Spatial Quale' ... may be found by some persons a useful substitute for the entire chapter? In fact, however, there is a significant philosophical difference between... (shrink)
Contemporary Austrian?school economists reject neoclassical welfare theory for being founded on the benchmark of a perfectly competitive general equilibrium, and instead favor a formal theory deemed consistent with the notions of radical subjectivism and disequilibrium analysis. Roy Cordato advances a bold free?market benchmark by which to formally assess social welfare, economic efficiency, and externalities issues. Like all formalist, a priori theory, however, Cordato's reformulation cannot meet its own standards, being theoretically and empirically flawed, and perhaps ideologically suspect.
The standard allocative efficiency criteria used by economists (Pareto efficiency and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency) are fundamentally unable to rank a slave-labor system against a free-labor system. Given either set of initial property rights assignments the market can reach (or fail to reach) allocative efficiency (that is, allocate resources to their highest-valued uses), but welfare economics provides no meta-framework for ranking initial assignments. This finding underscores the limits to the usefulness of efficiency criteria: they cannot settle all questions, and unfortunately are (...) least decisive just where the stakes are greatest (namely, where wealth effects of alternative assignments are greatest). Explicitly ethical criteria are needed to make the ranking. Key Words: Pareto efficiency Kaldor-Hicks efficiency property rights welfare economics. (shrink)
This ground-breaking volume brings together the essays of top theorists including Arjo Klamer, Deirdre McCloskey, Julie Nelson, Shuan Hargreaves-Heap and Philip Mirowski on a diverse range of topics such as gender, post-colonial theory, rationality, and modernism.
In a recent paper (Denis, 2004b) I argued that the neoclassical use of the concept of equilibrium was guilty of a hypostatisation: an equilibrium which is only an abstraction and extrapolation, the logical terminus of a component process taken in isolation, is extracted and one-sidedly substituted for the whole. The temporary is made permanent, and process subordinated to stasis, with clearly apologetic results. I concluded by suggesting that this hypostatisation exemplified the contrast between formal and dialectical modes of thought, and (...) that it may be in the application of a dialectical notion of equilibrium that the heterodoxy can make its most telling contribution. This paper develops the line of thought that, while heterodox currents may superficially appear as divided amongst themselves as they are from the orthodoxy, there is truly something profound uniting the apparently disparate heterodox trends: the adoption of a dialectical method. I draw on the work of Sciabarra (1995, 2000), who argues that making process primary, which we might expect of Austrian economists, is the essence of dialectics, which we might (wrongly, in his view) identify with Marxism. If this view is, as I believe, fundamentally correct, perhaps (a) we can only understand the method of neoclassical economics by contrasting it with a dialectical approach, and (b) we can explore the potential for common ground between the various heterodox currents by examining their attitude, both implicit and explicit, to dialectics. (shrink)
Abstract Kaldor, one of the leading figures of the post?war ?Cambridge School?, has produced a large volume of methodological writings since the mid?1960s, which we will argue represents one of the major critiques of orthodox equilibrium economic theory produced this century. While Kaldor's position represents a fundamental and radical rejection of the methodological basis of equilibrium economics, he did not provide a systematically formulated alternative methodology for economics. Recent attempts at providing such a reconstruction has argued that (...) scientific realism provides the most convincing philosophical interpretation of Kaldor's methodological contributions. In this paper we will argue that van Fraassen's constructive empiricism represent a more compelling alternative methodological framework to realism for systematizing Kaldor's important contributions. In particular it will be argued that this constructive empiricist reading of Kaldor has the capacity to critically undermine the methodological basis of orthodox equilibrium economics. In addition we explore the potential of this alternative framework to provide a novel and challenging reconstruction of economic methodology. (shrink)
The most effective way to silence criticism is a justification on the very terms of the likely critique. When an action is rationally justified, how can reason deny its legitimacy? This paper concerns critical strategies that have been employed for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique especially with respectto technology. Foucault addressed this problem in his theory of power/knowledge. This paper explores Marx’s anticipation of that approach in his critique of the “social rationality” of the market and technology. (...) Marx got around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like the concept ofunderdetermination in his discussion of the length of the working day. There are hints of a critique of technology in his writings as well. In the 1960s and ‘70s, neo-Marxists and post-structuralists demanded radical changes in the technological rationality of advanced societies. Marcuse proposed the most developed Marxist theory of alternative technology, based on a synthesis of aesthetics and technical rationality. The concept of underdetermination was finally formulated clearly in contemporary science and technology studies, but without explicit political purpose. Nevertheless, this revision of the academic understanding of technology contributes to weakening technocratic rationales for public policy. A new era of technical politics has begun. It is time to reevaluate the history of technology critique in the light of this unprecedented situation. (shrink)