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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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 participants in the debate over the current state and recent developments of economics make claims that are unrefined, simplistic, often exaggerated. This is understandable: the stakes are high, the issues trigger emotional responses, and few participants are motivated or equipped to seek more nuanced analyses. To assert, or to deny, that economics as a scientific discipline or a particular part of it (such as a model) is about reality – or refers to reality, represents it, is true (...) about it, or is truthlike about it – is to make a very complex and highly ambiguous claim. 1 The disputants often make claims that have parallels in the philosophical controversy between scientific realists and their opponents, or at any rate those claims can be partly analyzed in terms of some of the arguments presented in this philosophical controversy. The question addressed here is whether realism about economics is a viable position. The argument proceeds by way of refuting a number of arguments against realism about economics. I suggest a genuine controversy over the factuality of any particular strand or piece of economics requires realism as a general interpretation of economics – or at any rate requires debunking the anti-realist arguments discussed below. “The issue of realism” as most economists would recognize it, is not exactly the issue of realism as philosophers recognize it. “The issue of realism” in economics is about realisticness as a property of theories , while (part of) the issue of realism in philosophy is about realism as a theory of theories . But some parts of the issue of realisticness (such as those related to reference and truth) in economics can be translated into aspects of the issue of realism as a theory of theories. Thus there is also an issue of realism (with no quotation marks) in economics. It is this issue of realism that has to be settled as a prerequisite for critical assessments of important forms of realisticness of economic theories. (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)
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)
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 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)
I distinguish several doctrines that economic methodologists have found attractive, all of which have a positivist flavour. One of these is the doctrine that preference assignments in economics are just shorthand descriptions of agents' choice behaviour. Although most of these doctrines are problematic, the latter doctrine about preference assignments is a respectable one, I argue. It doesn't entail any of the problematic doctrines, and indeed it is warranted independently of them.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Recent work in behavioral economics and psychology provides valuable resources for religious ethicists. This book discussion examines contributions by Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, Uri Gneezy and John A. List, and Douglas Hough. This literature raises important questions about ethical decision-making, moral agency and responsibility, and the ethics of life in global capitalism. It also opens up promising areas for interdisciplinary dialogue between economics and religious studies. This book discussion concludes that religious ethicists have (...) much to contribute to the conversations about moral anthropology that are now being held in behavioral economic research, and to the broader political economic debates in which this research participates. (shrink)
This volume serves as a detailed introduction for those new to the field as well as a rich source of new insights and potential research agendas for those already engaged with the philosophy of economics.
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)
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.
This article provides an ISCT analysis of commercial bribery focused on transaction cost economics. In the language of Antitrust, commercial bribery is a form of vertical arrangement subject to the same efficiency analysis that has found other vertical arrangements potentially beneficial to consumers. My analysis shows that actions condemned as commerical bribery in the Honda case (1996) may well have benefited Honda's dealer network once promotional free riding and other forms of rent seeking by dealers are considered. I propose (...) that the term "commercial bribery" should be avoided until after an ISCT analysis shows that the community is likely to have been harmed. The term "third-party payments" is a more ethically neutral term with which to begin the analysis. (shrink)
The relationship between economics and the philosophy of natural science has changed substantially during the last few years. What was once exclusively a one-way relationship from philosophy to economics now seems to be much closer to bilateral exchange. The purpose of this paper is to examine this new relationship. First, I document the change. Second, I examine the situation within contemporary philosophy of science in order to explain why economics might have its current appeal. Third, I consider (...) some of the issues that might jeopardize the success of this philosophical project. (shrink)
"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)
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)
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 article aims at showing the need for a sound ethical and anthropological foundation of economics and business, and argues the importance of a correct understanding of human values and human nature for the sake of economics and of businesses themselves. It is suggested that the ethical-anthropological side of economics and business can be grasped by taking Aristotle’s virtue ethics and Amartya Sen’s capability approach (CA) as major reference points. We hold that an “Aristotelian economics of (...) virtues”, connected with the CA’s notion of human richness, can promote the shift to the concept of personhood, and can lead to a more “humanized” business, by fostering human flourishing, the enhancement of human capabilities, and the pursuit of a more humane development for each and every person. (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)
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)
This research paper attempts to get pragmatic way to deal with few questions like, 'Will Indian Economic thoughts be able to give directions to crises-ridden global economic system?', 'Can India show solutions to the World's Present Socio-economical crises?'' and What are the Alternatives available before mankind to avoid economic crises?' The concept of economic exploitation or “exploitation” which has been the focal point of solemn philosophical debate is one of the favorite nouns in the glossary of critics of the free (...) market economy. The strongest version of the claim that the free market necessarily involves exploitation is that of Karl Marx. The aim of this research paper is to bring to the notice of economist, policy makers, research scholars, professors and students of economics as well as of philosophy and layman, that what kind of solution, a Philosopher from India, like Prof. Surendra S. Barlingay has to offer to the discipline of economics at large. (shrink)
Despite growing interest in evolutionary economics since the 1980s, a unified theoretical approach has so far been lacking. Methodological and ontological discussions within evolutionary economics have attempted to understand and help rectify this failure, but have revealed in turn further differences of perspective. One aim of this article is to show how different approaches relate to different levels of abstraction. A second purpose is to show that generalized Darwinism is some way from the most abstract level, and illustrates (...) how it may be used to move towards more specific theoretical applications. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go before these become more evident. (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.
The current appeal of non-standard economic alternatives is backgrounded against the vulnerability of mainstream capitalism to meltdown and crisis as shown in recent times. There is an increasing number of governments, institutions, and civil societies (NGOs) that have been advocating economic systems, structures, or dynamics that would promote the good of the human person (dignity, personhood, values, and worth). People have started to realize that doing economics is not always within the realm of rationalized judgments and mathematized calculations (highly (...) impersonal) but must look after the human person, at all costs. This paper attempts to contribute to this agendum by employing an interdisciplinary dialogue between theology and economics; drawing a moral-cultural framework towards a compassion-based economics. Together with the positive traits of today’s economic alternatives and the salient features of Jesus’ praxis of compassion, this paper would offer fourteen (14) criteria as basis for what could be the most feasible base/locus for an economics of compassion. Eventually, what has been considered as the suitable base/locus is the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). Hence, a BEC-based Economics of Compassion or BEC-EC. (shrink)
This paper introduces the important concept of a biophysical perspective on economics into the business ethics literature. The biophysical perspective recognizes that ecological processes determine what can be done in an economy and how best to do it. A biophysical perspective places the economic system into a larger context of the ecologic system. This changes the perception of ethical issues by identifying a larger scope of management decisions. The paper examines the changing ethical landscape in such issues as biotechnology, (...) planned obsolescence, productivity, and international trade. The paper also examines the shift in mindset associated with the shift in economic framework. It draws on the literature on cognitive structures and moral imagination to show this new perspective can actually raise the bar for ethical decision-making and behavior. The pattern is that the ethical behavior associated with a biophysical economic framework has a greater scope of responsibility with the benefit that the required ethical behavior leads to better long-term decision making. (shrink)
Economics is a culturally and politically powerful and contested discipline, and it has been that way as long as it has existed. For some commentators, economics is the "queen of the social sciences", while others view it as a "dismal science" (and both of these epithets allow for diverse interpretations; see Mäki 2002). Economics is also a discipline that deals with a dynamically complex subject matter and has a tradition of reducing this complexity by using systematic procedures (...) of simplification. Nowadays, these procedures involve for the most part building and using mathematical models (for an overview of the philosophical issues, see Morgan and Knuuttila 2011). In the dominant circles of the discipline, one is not regarded as a serious economist having a professional expert view on any given economic or social issue without having a model about it. Much of the power of the discipline and its characteristic contestations therefore involve models and modelling: the successes and failures of the dismal queen are those of modeling. The issues involved in conomic modeling have been made particularly acute once again by the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and its aftermath: the discipline of economics is among the candidates for the major blame for failure. I will first outline some thoughts about the characteristics disciplinary conventions that guide and constrain modeling in economics. I will then summarize my account of the very ideas of models and modeling. Finally, within the framework of that account, I will highlight some major issues of contestation and sketch the respective notions of potential success and failure in economic modeling with illustrations. These notions are motivated by my subscription to a (flexible and discipline-sensitive) realist philosophy of science (e.g. Mäki 2005). (shrink)
This paper is motivated by Davis’  theory of the individual in economics. Davis’ analysis is applied to health economics, where the individual is conceived as a utility maximiser, although capable of regarding others’ welfare through interdependent utility functions. Nonetheless, this provides a restrictive and flawed account, engendering a narrow and abstract conception of care grounded in Paretian value and Cartesian analytical frames. Instead, a richer account of the socially embedded individual is advocated, which employs collective intentionality analysis. (...) This provides a sound foundation for research into an approach to health policy that promotes health as a basic human right. (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.
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.
First published in 1986 and reprinted in 2010 in the Routledge Revivals series, this book presents the first detailed confrontation between the Austrian school of economics and Austrian philosophy, especially the philosophy of the Brentano school. It contains a study of the roots of Austrian economics in the liberal political theory of the nineteenth-century Hapsburg empire, and a study of the relations between the general theory of value underlying Austrian economics and the new economic approach to human (...) behaviour propounded by Gary Becker and others in Chicago. In addition, it considers the connections between Austrian methodology and contemporary debates in the philosophy of the social sciences. (shrink)
In this article we argue for the importance of studying interdisciplinary collaborations by focusing on the role that good choice and design of model-building frameworks and strategies can play overcoming the inherent difficulties of collaborative research. We provide an empirical study of particular collaborations between economists and ecologists in resource economics. We discuss various features of how models are put together for interdisciplinary collaboration in these cases and show how the use of a coupled-model framework in this case to (...) coordinate and combine background models from ecology and economics provided particular collaborative affordances and clear collaborative gain. (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.