People have thought about economics for as long as they have thought about how to manage their households, and indeed Aristotle assimilated the study of the economic affairs of a city to the study of the management of a household. During the two millennia between Aristotle and Adam Smith, one finds reflections concerning economic problems mainly in the context of discussions of moral or policy questions. For example, scholastic philosophers commented on money and interest in inquiries concerning the justice (...) of "usury" (charging interest on money loans), and in the 17th century, there was a great deal of discussion of policy concerning foreign trade. Economics only emerged as a distinct field of study with the bold 18th-century idea that there were "economies"--that is autonomous law-governed systems of human interaction involving production, distribution and exchange. This view is already well developed in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, from which much of economics derives. (shrink)
Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction is the first systematic textbook in the philosophy of economics. It introduces the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical problems that arise in economics, and presents detailed discussions of the solutions that have been offered. Throughout, philosophical issues are illustrated by and analysed in the context of concrete cases drawn from contemporary economics, the history of economic ideas, and actual economic events. This demonstrates the relevance of philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>economics both for the science of economics and for the economy. This text will provide an excellent introduction to the philosophy of economics for students and interested general readers alike. (shrink)
An anthology of works on the philosophy of economics, including classic texts and essays exploring specific branches and schools of economics. Completely revamped, this edition contains new selections, a revised introduction and a bibliography. The volume contains 26 chapters organized into five parts: Classic Discussions, Positivist and Popperian Views, Ideology and Normative Economics, Branches and Schools of Economics and Their Methodological Problems and New Directions in Economic Methodology. It includes crucial historical contributions by figures such (...) as Mill, Marx, Weber, Robbins, Knight, and Veblen and works by most of the leading contemporary figures writing on economic methodology, including five Nobel Laureates in Economics. (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)
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)
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.
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)
Austrian economics starts out from the thesis that the objects of economic science differ from those of the natural sciences because of the centrality of the economic agent. This allows a certain a priori or essentialistic aspect to economic science of a sort which parallels the a priori dimension of psychology defended by Brentano and his student Edmund Husserl. We outline these parallels, and show how the theory of a priori dependence relations outlined in Husserl’s Logical Investigations can throw (...) light on the Austrian account of entrepreneurship. (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)
Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best (...) scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states. (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)
This article is a prelude to an experimental study of the preference concept in economics. I argue that a new empirical approach called experimental philosophy of science is a promising approach to advance the philosophy of economics. In particular, I discuss two debates in the field, the neuroeconomics controversy and the commonsensible realism debate, and suggest how experimental and survey techniques can generate data that will inform these debates. Some of the likely objections from philosophers and (...) economists are addressed, and possible ways of operationalizing different preference concepts are illustrated. (shrink)
This paper draws a connection between recentdevelopments in naturalized philosophyof science and the Buchanan research programin economics. Economic approaches innaturalized philosophy of science canbe combined to form an economic philosophy ofscience. After giving an overview of someof these approaches, I lay out the fundamentalsof the Buchanan research program. I arguethat its main elements are a theory of interactionsand a normative foundation in consensus whichhelp to answer some important criticismsof economic philosophy of science.
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)
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.
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 paper seeks to offer  an explication of a concept of economics imperialism, focusing on its epistemic aspects; and  criteria for its normative assessment. In regard to , the defining notion is that of explanatory unification across disciplinary boundaries. As to , three kinds of constraints are proposed. An ontological constraint requires an increased degree of ontological unification in contrast to mere derivational unification. An axiological constraint derives from variation in the perceived relative significance of the facts (...) explained. An epistemological constraint requires strong fallibilism acknowledging a particularly severe epistemic uncertainty and proscribing against over-confident arrogance. (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 an updated 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)
Introduction -- Unintended consequences -- The origin of money -- Segregation -- The invisible hand -- The origin of money reconsidered -- Models and representation -- Game theory and conventions -- Conclusion.
Relatively little contemporary philosophy of education employs economic concepts directly. Even where issues such as marketisation of education are discussed there may be little clarification of underlying concepts. The paper argues that while much contemporary economic thinking on education may be philosophically naive, it is also the case that philosophy of education can productively engage with particular economic insights and perspectives. The paper examines particular conceptualisations of 'economics' and 'the market', drawing upon these to consider aspects of (...) an issue that is significant for the philosophy of education: human becoming. An example, the notion of 'wellbeing' is briefly discussed. (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)
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)
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)
There is an embarrassing polarization of opinions about the status of economics as an academic discipline, as reflected in epithets such as the Dismal Science and the Queen of the Social Sciences. This collection brings together some of the leading figures in the methodology and philosophy of economics to provide a thoughtful and balanced overview of the current state of debate about the nature and limits of economic knowledge. Authors with partly rival and partly complementary perspectives examine (...) how abstract models work and how they might connect with the real world, they look at the special nature of the facts about the economy, and they direct attention towards the academic institutions themselves and how they shape economic research. These issues are thus analysed from the point of view of methodology, semantics, ontology, rhetoric, sociology, and economics of science. (shrink)
In response to criticism of empirical or “positive” approaches to corporate social responsibility, we defend the importance of these approaches for any CSR theory that seeks to have practical impact. Although we acknowledge limitations to positive approaches, we unpack the neglected but crucial relationships between positive knowledge on the one hand and normative knowledge on the other in the implementation of CSR principles. Using the structure of a practical syllogism, we construct a model that displays the key role of empirical (...) knowledge in fulfilling a firm’s responsibility to society, paying special attention to the implications of the “ought implies can” dictum. We also defend the importance of one particular class of empirical claims; namely, claims from the field of economics. Even positive economic theory, which is often criticized for endorsing profits rather than values, can cooperate in intriguing ways with non-economic concepts in the implementation of CSR goals. (shrink)
This paper examines a broad range of ethical perspectives and principles relevant to the analysis of issues raised by the science of climate change and explores their implications. A second and companion paper extends this analysis to the contribution of ethics, economics and politics in understanding policy towards climate change. These tasks must start with the science which tells us that this is a problem of risk management on an immense scale. Risks on this scale take us far outside (...) the familiar policy questions and standard, largely marginal, techniques commonly used by economists; this is a subject that requires the full breadth and depth of what economics has to offer and a much more thoughtful view of ethics than economists usually bring to bear. Different philosophical approaches bring different perspectives on understanding and policy, yet they generally point to the case for strong action to manage climate change. (shrink)
This paper draws a connection between recent developments in naturalized philosophy of science and the Buchanan research program in economics. Economic approaches in naturalized philosophy of science can be combined to form an economic philosophy of science. After giving an overview of some of these approaches, I lay out the fundamentals of the Buchanan research program. I argue that its main elements are a theory of interactions and a normative foundation in consensus which help to answer (...) some important criticisms of economic philosophy of science. (shrink)
To date, philosophers of education have shown relatively little interest in analyzing the theoretical basis in which the economics of education is grounded. The main argument of this article is that due to the changing nature of orthodox economic theory’s influence on education, a philosophical examination of its underpinnings is required. It is maintained that as a result of economics imperialism, namely the penetration of economic modes of thinking into new domains, educational philosophers have an essential role to (...) play in examining economic theory. The article briefly discusses this role and provides some examples of how educational philosophers can make a unique contribution to current thinking about the relationship between economics and education. (shrink)
The paper takes a fresh look at two essays that Adam Smith wrote at the very beginning of his career. In these essays, Smith explains his philosophy of science, which is social constructivist. A social constructivist reading of Smith strengthens the scholarly consensus that The Wealth of Nations needs to be interpreted in light of the general moral theory he explicates in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, as the two essays and TMS stress the importance of the same concepts: (...) e.g., moral imagination, the socially embedded individual, and humility. The connecting tissue between all three works is made up of sentiments and values. Smith regards the socially embedded human as the agent in all three realms, and humans are always driven by values. Smith not only conceives of economics as an applied moral philosophy, but also bases both research areas on a view of knowledge creation that stresses specific epistemic values. If mainstream economic theory wants to have any claim to Adam Smith, it would have to change not only what it argues but also how it argues. Economists would have to replace the language of mathematics with the language and logic of moral philosophy and give values centre stage. (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)
This essay discusses the place of business principles and of moral sentiments in economic success, and examines the role of cultures in influencing norms of business behavior. Two presumptions held in standard economic analysis are disputed: the rudimentary nature of business principles (essentially restricted, directly or indirectly, to profit maximization), and the allegedly narrow reach of moral sentiments (often treated to be irrelevant to business and economics). In contrast, the author argues for the need to recognize the complex structure (...) of business principles and the extensive reach of moral sentiments by using theoretical considerations, a thorough analysis of Adam Smith’s work, and a careful interpretation of Japan’s remarkable economic success. Referring to the economic corruption in Italy and the “grabbing culture” in Russia, he further shows how deeply the presence or absence of particular features of business ethics can influence the operation of the economy, and even the nature of the society and itspolitics. Being an Indian himself, he warns against grand generalizations like the superiority of “Asian values” over traditional Western morals. To conclude, it is diversity—over space, over time, and between groups —that makes the study of business principles and moral sentiments a rich source of understanding and explanation. (shrink)
Alexander Rosenberg (1983) has argued, contrary to his previous work in the philosophy of economics, that economics is not science, and it is merely mathematics. The following paper argues that Rosenberg fails to demonstrate either of these two claims. The questions of the predictive weakness of modern economics and the cognitive standing of abstract economic theory are discussed in detail.
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.