We examine the “new comparativeeconomics” as proposed by Djankov et al. (2003) and their use of the concept of an institutional possibilities frontier. While we agree with their general argument that one must consider a variety of institutions and their respective social costs, including legal systems and cultural characteristics, when comparing the performance of different economic systems, we find various complications and difficulties with the framework they propose. We propose that a broader study of clusters of institutions (...) and such newly emerging forms as the new traditional economy may be better suited as ways to approach the study of comparativeeconomics in the era after the breakdown of the old comparison of market capitalism and command socialism that came to an end with the breakup of the Soviet Union. (shrink)
This paper argues that a new economic system is emerging in the world economy, that of the new traditional economy. Such an economic system simultaneously seeks to have economic decision making embedded within a traditional socio-cultural framework, most frequently one associated with a traditional religion, while at the same time seeking to use modern technology and to be integrated into the modern world economy to some degree. The efforts to achieve such a system are reviewed in various parts of the (...) world, with greater analysis of the Islamic and neo- Confucian economic systems. (shrink)
Comparative perspectives in development economics make extensive use of qualitative and quantitative induction together with deduction, and some-times a narrative, to bring ?facts? together in an interrelated whole. It is a method of inquiry not allied to any single ?world view? though some development economists believe that comparative perspectives (or analytical economic history) are most representative of the classical tradition in development economics. Pattern modeling which is strongly associated with the inductive approach can take account of (...) complexity and diversity, as well as uniformities, in the development experience. (shrink)
The main purpose of this study is to understand the demographic, personal and situational determining factors leading to academic misconduct among undergraduate students by comparatively analyzing the differences among Economics and Business students and other major students. Two thousand four hundred ninety-two undergraduate students from different Portuguese Public Universities answered a questionnaire regarding their propensity to commit academic fraud, 640 of whom were Economics and Business students. Results concluded that Economics and Business students can be distinguished from (...) others regarding the likelihood of copying from the other Major students. Younger students admit more readily to the possibility of cheating than older students. Results indicate a greater probability of acceptance of dishonest practices outside the area of Economics and Management and a greater probability of condemnation of improper practices by students of Economics and Management. This indicates that students of Economics and Management are aware that their behavior is incorrect and unacceptable; peer-pressure and the learning process itself constitute the main justifications provided by Economics and Business students for their fraudulent actions. Implications for this practice are discussed. (shrink)
In this article, it is shown that a wide range of comparative statics results from expected utility theory can be extended to generalized expected utility models using the tools of supermodularity theory. In particular, a range of concepts of decreasing absolute risk aversion may be formulated in terms of the supermodularity properties of certainty equivalent representations of preferences.
"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)
The literature of comparativeeconomics as well as economic history is replete with references to productivity differences as reflecting relative efficiency in production. In socialist economics, for example, the longevity of the relative-productivity/relative-efficiency theme is apparent from Abram Bergson's early survey where, commenting on a productivity debate that had already been going on for over twenty years, he identified “the only issue outstanding” as the question “which is more efficient, socialism or capitalism?” The issue has continued to (...) be addressed vigorously since then, and it is still outstanding. Again, in European economic history, John Nye recently pointed out that relative efficiency as reflected in relative productivity has been part and parcel of the postwar debate on French industrialization: the view that less productive and, therefore, “inefficient” family firms led to French “backwardness” in production. (shrink)
In a recent article, Edward Saraydar takes economists and economic historians to task for equating productivity and efficiency in comparative economic analysis. Although I found his thesis interesting, I was a bit surprised to see selected remarks from my article on firm size in nineteenth-century France used to frame his criticism of productivity comparisons as a means of making prescriptive statements. The passages selected may mislead the reader as to the nature of my arguments. Let me quote Saraydar on (...) this: … I argue that … the problem with equating productivity with efficiency is that from the neoclassical standpoint this strongly suggests a prescriptive view - a view that things should be or should have been different - and thereby frees the analyst from the need to justify the utility costs that might be or might have been required to make things different. Thus, in the French industrialization debate, for example, Nye points out that evidence that smaller family firms were less productive would support the conclusion “that nineteenth-century French firms were too small and that consequently French industry suffered from inefficiency”. Suppose the evidence to which Nye refers to existed. [My emphasis] Distributive considerations aside, in neoclassical economics a more Pareto-efficient state by its very nature is to be preferred to a less efficient one. Therefore, the implication is that family firms should have been larger and more productive. However, suppose also that the plethora of small family firms in nineteenth-century France, in fact, constituted a longstanding, widely accepted, socially imbedded institution. Clearly, the traditionalist thought-experiment and conclusion would ignore the potential costs in utility or satisfaction to owners of factors of production, a utility loss that may well have been required to make the “more efficient.” transformation to a relatively few large-scale industrial firms. That potential utility loss cannot be ignored and should be part of the analysis. (shrink)
In a recent article, Edward Saraydar (1989) takes economists and economic historians to task for equating productivity and efficiency in comparative economic analysis. Although I found his thesis interesting, I was a bit surprised to see selected remarks from my article on firm size in nineteenth-century France (Nye,1987) used to frame his criticism of productivity comparisons as a means of making prescriptive statements. The passages selected may mislead the reader as to the nature of my arguments. Let me quote (...) Saraydar on this: … I argue that … the problem with equating productivity with efficiency is that from the neoclassical standpoint this strongly suggests a prescriptive view - a view that things should be or should have been different - and thereby frees the analyst from the need to justify the utility costs that might be or might have been required to make things different. Thus, in the French industrialization debate, for example, Nye points out that evidence that smaller family firms were less productive would support the conclusion “that nineteenth-century French firms were too small (for whatever reasons) and that consequently French industry suffered from inefficiency” (Nye, 1987, pp. 667–68). Suppose the evidence to which Nye refers to existed. [My emphasis] Distributive considerations aside, in neoclassical economics a more Pareto-efficient state by its very nature is to be preferred to a less efficient one. Therefore, the implication is that family firms should have been larger and more productive. However, suppose also that the plethora of small family firms in nineteenth-century France, in fact, constituted a longstanding, widely accepted, socially imbedded institution. Clearly, the traditionalist thought-experiment and conclusion would ignore the potential costs in utility or satisfaction to owners of factors of production, a utility loss that may well have been required to make the “more efficient.” transformation to a relatively few large-scale industrial firms. That potential utility loss cannot be ignored and should be part of the analysis. (Saraydar, 1989, p. 56). (shrink)
This volume addresses fundamental issues in the philosophy of science in the context of two most intriguing fields: biology and economics. Written by authorities and experts in the philosophy of biology and economics, Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics provides a structured study of the concepts of mechanism and causality in these disciplines and draws careful juxtapositions between philosophical apparatus and scientific practice. By exploring the issues that are most salient to the contemporary philosophies of biology (...) and economics and by presenting comparative analyses, the book serves as a platform not only for gaining mutual understanding between scientists and philosophers of the life sciences and those of the social sciences, but also for sharing interdisciplinary research that combines both philosophical concepts in both fields. -/- The book begins by defining the concepts of mechanism and causality in biology and economics, respectively. The second and third parts investigate philosophical perspectives of various causal and mechanistic issues in scientific practice in the two fields. These two sections include chapters on causal issues in the theory of evolution; experiments and scientific discovery; representation of causal relations and mechanism by models in economics. The concluding section presents interdisciplinary studies of various topics concerning extrapolation of life sciences and social sciences, including chapters on the philosophical investigation of conjoining biological and economic analyses with, respectively, demography, medicine and sociology. (shrink)
This paper reviews three distinct strategies in recent economics for using the concept of social identity in the explanation of individual behavior: Akerlof and Kranton's neoclassical approach, Sen's commitment approach and Kirman et al.'s complexity approach. The primary focus is the multiple selves problem and the difficulties associated with failing to explain social identity and personal identity together. The argument of the paper is that too narrow a scope for reflexivity in individual decision?making renders the problem intractable, but that (...) enlarging this scope makes it possible to explain personal and social identity together in connection with an individual behavior termed comparative value?objective evaluation. The paper concludes with recommendations for treating the individual objective function as a production function. JEL classification: D01, D63, Z13. (shrink)
The literature of an economics of science exists in a dismal no-(wo)man's-land located somewhere between economics, history, philosophy, policy, sociology and science. Perhaps it would have continued in this tenuous quasi-existence indefinitely, were it not for a series of trends that now seem to be encouraging the institution of a subfield within the profession of economics devoted to the topic. However, many of the economists who have begun to proclaim the existence of the new subfield have generally (...) done so by starting from scratch, striving to think through the relevant problem settings and proposed solutions with little attention paid to the alternative communities mentioned above, building ?models? of science generally unrecognizable to those outside of mainstream economics. The goal of this paper is to provide the requisite materials for advancing the emerging field of economics of science by discussing the various approaches in a systematic, comparative and integrative manner. (shrink)
This study is an empirical approach to answering the question: are there any universal factors that account for the origin, diffusion and persistence of corruption in human societies? The paper enquires whether the perception of corruption in politics and economics can be tackled as a form of cultural adaptation, driven by exogenous and endogenous forces. These are respectively: freedom of access and management of economic resources, and the pressures towards human grouping. Following the analytical insights of cultural theory, developed (...) by Mary Douglas and later Aaron Wildavsky, variation is introduced through the ways in which corruption is perceived through the different behavioral and cultural biases that prevail in societies. This research introduces a cross-country comparative analysis of 57 countries attempting to test quantitatively whether institutional pressure and emphasis towards social grouping are correlated with corruption perception at country levels. (shrink)
A key question in comparative law is why different legal systems provide different legal solutions for the same problem. To answer this question, we use novel comparative evidence on how the conflict between the dispossessed original owner and the bona fide purchaser of a stolen good is resolved in different countries. This is the most primitive manifestation of a fundamental legal choice: the balance between the protection of the owner’s property rights and the enhancement of the buyer’s reliance (...) on contracts. We test four prominent theories: functional equivalence, legal origins, political economics and cultural economics. We find that a culture of self-reliance is the key determinant of comparative variation in this area of law. (shrink)
This book provides a methodological perspective on understanding the essential roles of econometric models in the theory and practice. Offering a comprehensive and comparative exposition of the accounts of models in both econometrics and philosophy of science, this work shows how econometrics and philosophy of science are interconnected while exploring the methodological insight of econometric modelling that can be added to modern philosophical thought. The notion of structure is thoroughly discussed throughout the book. The studies of the consumption function (...) of Trygve Haavelmo, Richard Stone, Milton Friedman, David Hendry and Robert Lucas are taken as the case studies to investigate their methodological implications of model and structure. In addition to the semantic view of the scientific theories, various philosophical accounts concerning scientific models are used to shed light on the methodological nature of these consumption studies in economics. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of methodology of economics and econometrics as well as anyone interested in the philosophy of science in an economic context. (shrink)
As the transaction cost theory of the firm was taking shape in the 1970s, another important movement in economics was emerging: a revival of the ‘Austrian’ tradition in economic theory associated with such economists as Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek . As Oliver Williamson has pointed out, Austrian economics is among the diverse sources for transaction cost economics. In particular, Williamson frequently cites Hayek , particularly Hayek’s emphasis on adaptation as a key problem of economic (...) organisation . Following Williamson’s lead, a reference to Hayek’s ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society’ has become almost mandatory in discussions of economic organisation . However, there are many other potential links between Austrian and transaction cost economics that have not been explored closely and exploited.This article argues that characteristically Austrian ideas about property, entrepreneurship, economic calculation, tacit knowledge, and the temporal structure of capital have important implications for theories of economic organisation, transaction cost economics in particular. Austrian economists have not, however, devoted substantial attention to the theory of the firm, preferring to focus on business-cycle theory, welfare economics, political economy, comparative economic systems, and other areas. Until recently the theory of the firm was an almost completely neglected area in Austrian economics, but over the last decade, a small Austrian literature on the firm has emerged. While these works cover a wide variety of theoretical and applied topics, their authors share the view that Austrian insights have something to offer students of firm organisation. (shrink)
This chapter compares biology with the practices of economics to determine the extent to which mainstream economic theory can be regarded as ‘scientific’. This survey of practice in the two disciplines shows that biological theory is derived from description and experimentation. In contrast, the ideal in mainstream economics is to derive theory from axioms. When economic theory is compared with the available evidence, a disjunction is found between the empirical findings and conventional theory. The disjunction is explained by (...) a fundamental mismatch between the evidence and the basic theoretical categories and structure. The central issue is the relationship of evidence to theory: to put it simply, which should come first? The conclusion is that regularities that emerge from a comparative historical perspective, including use of econometric, statistical, and qualitative studies, could provide the type of evidence that could form a secure foundation for theorising in economics. (shrink)
This paper presents a personal view of the interaction between the analysis of choice under uncertainty and the analysis of production under uncertainty. Interest in the foundations of the theory of choice under uncertainty was stimulated by applications of expected utility theory such as the Sandmo model of production under uncertainty. This interest led to the development of generalized models including rank-dependent expected utility theory. In turn, the development of generalized expected utility models raised the question of whether such models (...) could be used in the analysis of applied problems such as those involving production under uncertainty. Finally, the revival of the state-contingent approach led to the recognition of a fundamental duality between choice problems and production problems. (shrink)
This book is the result of the first SEEP (Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy) conference that was held in Asia. First, the Western tradition is reinterpreted and restated by the two editors with their diversified perspective of virtue ethics and communicative ethics. Then, new approaches such as "critical realism", "reciprocal delivery", "evolutionary thought" and "cultural studies" are applied to understand ethical problems in economics. Further, in contrast to the reassessment of Scottish moral philosophy and German Romanticism, Chinese, Japanese, (...) and Korean ethical thinking is examined under the modern perspective. This book does not miss the reflections on current problems around the penetration of corruption and the primacy of shareholders' value in the field of business. (shrink)
My philosophical intuitions are those of a scientific realist. In addition to being realist in its philosophical outlook, my philosophy of economics also aspires to be realistic in the sense of being descriptively adequate, or at least normatively non-utopian, about economics as a scientific discipline. The special challenge my philosophy of economics must meet is to provide a scientific realist account that is realistic of a discipline that deals with a complex subject matter and operates with highly (...) unrealistic models. Unrealisticness in economic models must not constitute an obstacle to realism about those models. What follows is a selective and somewhat abstract summary of my thinking about economics, outlined from two perspectives: first historical and autobiographical, then systematic and comparative. The first angle helps understand motives and trajectories of ideas against their backgrounds in intellectual history. My story turns out to have both unique and generalizable aspects. The second approach outlines some of the key concepts and arguments as well as their interrelations in my philosophy of economics, with occasional comparisons to other views. More space will be devoted to this second perspective than to the first. (shrink)
This study reports the results of a survey designed to assess the impact of education on the perceptions of ethical beliefs of students. The study examines the beliefs of students from selected colleges in an eastern university. The results indicate that beliefs which students perceive are required to succeed in the university differ among colleges. Business and economics students consistently perceive a greater need for unethical beliefs than students from other colleges.
An agent-centered, goal-directed, resource-bound logic of human reasoning would do well to note that individual cognitive agency is typified by the comparative scantness of available cognitive resourcess ignorance-preserving character. My principal purpose here is to tie abduction’s scarce-resource adjustment capacity to its ignorance preservation.
Positive economic models aim to provide truthful explanations of significant economic phenomena. While the notion of ‘preferences’ figures prominently in micro-economic models, it suffers from a remarkable lack of conceptual clarity and rigor. After distinguishing narrow homo economicus models from broader ones and rehearsing the criticisms both have met, I go into the most promising attempt to date at addressing them, developed by Hausman. However, his definition of preferences as ‘total comparative evaluations’, I argue, plays into the general disregard (...) that economists have for human psychology. My alternative definition of preferences as ‘overall comparative evaluations’ – and hence as one of the many factors that influence people’s behavior – allows for more adequate causal explanations of people’s dutiful, committed, and norm-guided actions. Against Hausman but in agreement with Sen, it also allows for counterpreferential... (shrink)
The book "Idealization XIV: Models in Science" offers a detailed ontological, epistemological and historical account of the role of models in scientific practice. The volume contains contributions of different international scholars who developed many aspects of the use of idealizations and models both in the natural and the social sciences. This volume is particularly relevant because it offers original contributions concerning one of the main topic in philosophy of science: the role of models in such branches of the sciences and (...) the humanities like comparative historical sociology, economics, history, linguistics and political philosophy. -/- Contributors are: Giacomo Borbone, Krzysztof Brzechczyn, Mieszko Ciesielski, Adam Czerniak, Xavier de Donato Rodríguez, José L. Falguera, Adolfo García de la Sienra, Lidia Godek, Igor Hanzel, Łukasz Hardt, Krzysztof Kiedrowski, Barbara Konat, Zenonas Norkus, Piotr Przybysz, Piotr Szwochert. (shrink)
The first study dedicated to the relationship between Alexander Pope and George Berkeley, this book undertakes a comparative reading of their work on the visual environment, economics and providence, challenging current ideas of the relationship between poetry and philosophy in early eighteenth-century Britain. It shows how Berkeley's idea that the phenomenal world is the language of God, learnt through custom and experience, can help to explain some of Pope's conservative sceptical arguments, and also his virtuoso poetic techniques.
Social scientists have paid insufficient attention to the role of law in constituting the economic institutions of capitalism. Part of this neglect emanates from inadequate conceptions of the nature of law itself. Spontaneous conceptions of law and property rights that downplay the role of the state are criticized here, because they typically assume relatively small numbers of agents and underplay the complexity and uncertainty in developed capitalist systems. In developed capitalist economies, law is sustained through interaction between private agents, courts (...) and the legislative apparatus. Law is also a key institution for overcoming contracting uncertainties. It is furthermore a part of the power structure of society, and a major means by which power is exercised. This argument is illustrated by considering institutions such as property and the firm. Complex systems of law have played a crucial role in capitalist development and are also vital for developing economies. (shrink)
Several areas of welfare economics seek to evaluate states of affairs as a function of interpersonally comparable individual utilities. The aim is to map each state of affairs onto a vector of individual utilities, and then to produce an ordering of these vectors that can be represented by a mathematical function assigning a real number to each. When this approach is used in intertemporal contexts, a central theoretical question concerns the evaluative weight to be applied to utility coming at (...) different times. This question concerns the rate of pure time preference, which is one key determinant of the social discount rate. This article argues that the standard philosophical account of pure time preference is mistaken, because it ascribes to economists a methodological commitment they need not, and often do not, accept. This in turn undercuts the most common philosophical objection to pure time preference, which traces at least to Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. The article then evaluates three further objections to pure time preference, concluding that it might still be defensible under certain circumstances. The article closes by articulating a final argument that is suggested by the “Social, Economic and Ethical Concepts and Methods” chapter of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. If this further argument is sound, it would constitute a decisive objection to pure time preference as it currently figures in much intertemporal welfare economics. (shrink)
Combining the fields of international trade theory, economic development, and economic growth, this text provides an advanced exposition suitable for graduate students as well as researchers at all levels. It combines mathematical rigour with an exceptional breadth of approaches, including institutions, history, and comparativeeconomics. Existing research is exposited and evaluated, and numerous new results are included. The central themes of economic inequality, within and between nations, are discussed, as is convergence, or the reduction of inequality. Distinctive features (...) of the volume include a radical re-evaluation of the theoretical basis of the economic convergence model proposed by Barro and Sala-i-Martin, a new generalization of the standard HOS model, and a new concept, the economic environment, designed to model the effects of institutions in a more analytical and micro-founded manner is discussed. Uniquely, the real world examples included focus not only on countries participating fully in globalized trade, like China, but also those countries and regions failing to fully participate, specifically the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa. The text concludes with a discussion of current issues in world economic governance, particularly the IMF and limitations of the Washington consensus, showing that some criticism fails to confront fundamental difficulties. (shrink)
Comparative valuation of different policy interventions often requires interpersonal comparability of benefit. In the field of health economics, the metric commonly used for such comparison, quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained, has been criticized for failing to respect the equality of all persons’ intrinsic worth, including particularly those with disabilities. A methodology is proposed that interprets ‘full quality of life’ as the best health prospect that is achievable for the particular individual within the relevant budget constraint. This calibration (...) is challenging both conceptually and operationally as it shifts dramatically when technology or budget developments alter what can be achieved for incapacitated individuals. The proposal nevertheless ensures that the maximal achievable satisfaction of one person’s preferences can carry no more intrinsic value than that of another. This approach, which can be applied to other domains of social valuation, thus prevents implicit discrimination against the elderly and those with irremediable incapacities. (shrink)
The 1994 US spectrum auction is now a paradigmatic case of the successful use of microeconomic theory for policy-making. We use a detailed analysis of it to review standard accounts in philosophy of science of how idealized models are connected to messy reality. We show that in order to understand what made the design of the spectrum auction successful, a new such account is required, and we present it here. Of especial interest is the light this sheds on the issue (...) of progress in economics. In particular, it enables us to get clear on exactly what has been progressing, and on exactly what theory has – and has not – contributed to that. This in turn has important implications for just what it is about economic theory that we should value. (shrink)
Comparison is fundamental to the practice and subject-matter of philosophy, but has received scant attention by philosophers. This is even so in “comparative philosophy,” which literally distinguishes itself from other philosophy by being “comparative.” In this article, the need for a philosophy of comparison is suggested. What we compare with what, and in what respect it is done, poses a series of intriguing and intricate questions. In Part One, I offer a problematization of the tertium comparationis (the third (...) of comparison) by examining conceptualizations of similarity, family resemblance, and analogy, which it is sometimes argued can do without a tertium comparationis. In Part Two, I argue that a third of comparison is already required to determine what is to be compared, and insofar as that determination precedes the comparison that tertium may be called “pre-comparative.” This leads me to argue against incomparability and to show how anything can indeed be compared to anything. In Part Three, I relate my arguments to what is today commonly labelled “comparative philosophy.” Finally, I raise some questions of ontology and politics in order to demonstrate the relevance of a philosophy of comparison. (shrink)
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)
In this essay, we present a theory of intercultural philosophical dialogue and comparative philosophy, drawing on both hermeneutics and analytic philosophy. We advocate the approach of “de-essentialization” across the board. It is true that similarities and differences are always to be observed across languages and traditions, but there exist no immutable cores or essences. “De-essentialization” applies to all “levels” of concepts: everyday notions such as green and qing 青, philosophical concepts such as emotion(s) and qing 情, and philosophical categories (...) such as forms of life and dao 道. We argue that interpretation is a holistic multi-directional process constrained by the principle of mutual attunement. It is necessary to assume that “the other” is a human being, who, in most cases, is consistent and stating that which is true or right. This is the condition of possibility for intercultural philosophical dialogue and comparative philosophy. No more necessary conditions are needed. There is no need to presuppose concepts or categories that are universal for all humans and their languages (such as emotion(s) and qing 情). (shrink)
This paper challenges Mäki's argument about commonsensibles by offering a case study from contemporary microeconomics – contemporary revealed preference theory (hereafter CRPT) – where terms like "preference," "utility," and to some extent "choice," are radical departures from the common sense meanings of these terms. Although the argument challenges the claim that economics is inhabited solely by commonsensibles, it is not inconsistent with such folk notions being common in economic theory.
Abstract: This paper examines Mark Blaug's position on the normative character of Paretian welfare economics: in general, and specifically with respect to his debate with Pieter Hennipman over this question during the 1990s. The paper also clarifies some of the confusions that emerged within the context of this debate, and closes by providing some additional arguments supporting Blaug's position that he himself did not provide.
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)
In June of 2008, the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy (ISCWP) convened its third Constructive Engagement conference, on the theme of “Comparative Philosophy Methodology.” During the opening speeches, Prof. Dunhua ZHAO, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Peking University, challenged the conference’s participants to put forward a minimal definition of “comparative philosophy” and a statement of its methods. Based on the papers from the conference and the extensive discussion that ensued, during my (...) closing reflections at the end of the conference I offered a tentative synthesis of the conference’s conclusions. That summary has already been published on-line as part of the bi-annual ISCWP newsletter (Angle 2008). In this brief essay, I recapitulate the themes of my earlier summary and expand, in my own voice, on some of the key points. (shrink)
In this journal theme introduction, first, I explain how comparative philosophy as explored in the journal Comparative Philosophy is understood and how it is intrinsically related to the constructive engagement strategy. Second, to characterize more clearly and accurately some related methodological points of the constructive-engagement strategy, and also to explain how constructive engagement is possible, I introduce some needed conceptual and explanatory resources and a meta-methodological framework and endeavor to identify adequacy conditions for methodological guiding principles in (...) class='Hi'>comparative studies. Third, as a case analysis, I show how the constructive-engagement reflective practice bears on recent studies of Chinese and comparative Chinese-Western philosophy, especially in the past decade, for two purposes: to illustrate the foregoing theoretic characterization of the constructive engagement strategy, and to identify and explain some constructive morals that might have general significance for comparative studies. (shrink)
The tone of this paper is largely critical. Therefore, I would like to begin by praising Donald McCloskey and Arjo Klamer for their exciting and provocative initiative in the metatheory of economics. They have done us a great favor by opening our eyes to some hidden aspects in the intellectual practices of economists. They have shown that economics is rhetoric; it is persuasion, discourse, conversation, and negotiation, to use their favorite phrases. They have provided plausible arguments and illuminating (...) examples to convince us of the literary character of economic reasoning, notwithstanding the formal languages used by economists and the positivist pretensions typical of the self-image of the discipline. However, McCloskey and Klamer have been less successful in trying to convince us of what economics is not. In particular, it concerns me that they have opened up a gap between rhetoric and realism. They seem to think that because economics has a rhetorical character, it cannot be understood in realist terms. I will argue that this view is mistaken: rhetoric and realism do not exclude each other, but rather they are capable of being combined in a coherent methodology of economics. It is a valuable contribution to import the insights of the newly rehabilitated rhetoric to the metatheory of economics; but it is unnecessary to marry them with enthusiasm about the fashionable anti-realism of Richard Rorty and others. While this is my overall thesis, it is clear that only initial steps towards its substantiation can be taken in this paper. I intend to proceed as follows. I will first make an attempt to locate the problem at hand in the history of the metatheory of economics. Then I will point out those elements in rhetorical metatheory as practiced and defended by Klamer and McCloskey that apparently have anti-realist or non-realist assumptions or implications, either directly or via considerations of scientific rationality. Next I will formulate a few concepts of realism, the differences between which have been ignored in the methodology of economics to this day. Then I will make preliminary attempts to inquire into the mutual compatibility of the rhetorical insights provided by McCloskey and Klamer and realism in this context. I will show that, in principle, there should be no insurmountable obstacles to combining the two; in some of its senses, realism will even turn out to be presupposed by the rhetorical approach. I do not primarily intend to argue for realism as such in this paper. Instead, I will argue for the compatibility of realism and rhetoric. The argument is based on Klamer's and McCloskey's own commitments; in this sense, the argument is immanent to their rhetorical approach. As a final point, I will argue that one should not be indifferent about realism: it does make a difference in economics and in the methodology of economics whether rhetoric is accepted with or without realism. (shrink)
Economics is a controversial scientific discipline. One of the traditional issues that has kept economists and their critics busy is about whether economic theories and models are about anything real at all. The critics have argued that economic models are based on assumptions that are so utterly unrealistic that those models become purely fictional and have nothing informative to say about the real world. Many also claim that an antirealist instrumentalism (allegedly outlined by Milton Friedman in 1953) justifying such (...) unrealistic models has become established as the semi-official practitioners' philosophy of conventional economics. Others argue that what is the case in the economy and the way economics relates to it are socially constructed such that there is no economics-independent way the world worls or truths about it. On both of these pictures, realism would seem to have little do with economics. These pictures are too simplistic. There is more realism in and about economics than first would appear. To see this requires not just looking mere closely, but also adjusting one's conception of scientific realism. It also requires taking a critical stance on much of what economicsts themselves and other commentators have claimed. Yet, historically, there is much wisdom available in the philosophical self-image of the discipline. (shrink)
Many economists, it is said, “are inclined to deny that moral philosophy has anything to do with economics” . In this paper I challenge such inclinations bydrawing an analogy between economic interventions and humansubjects research. It is undeniable that investigators engaged in thelatter should adhere to specific ethical principles. I argue that analogousfeatures of economic interventions should lead us to recognise thatsimilar ethical concerns actually arise in both activities, and thusthat economic interventions should also be conducted in accordancewith ethical (...) principles. By exploring the analogy further I formulatesome ethical guidelines for economic practice, which in turn imply thatethical responsibilities will extend to all members of the economicsprofession. (shrink)