This book examines the use, principally in economics, of the concept of the invisible hand, centering on Adam Smith. It interprets the concept as ideology, knowledge, and a linguistic phenomenon. It shows how the principal Chicago School interpretation misperceives and distorts what Smith believed on the economic role of government. The essays further show how Smith was silent as to his intended meaning, using the term to set minds at rest; how the claim that the invisible hand is the foundational (...) concept of economics is repudiated by numerous leading economic theorists; that several dozen identities given the invisible hand renders the term ambiguous and inconclusive; that no such thing as an invisible hand exists; and that calling something an invisible hand adds nothing to knowledge. Finally, the essays show that the leading doctrines purporting to claim an invisible hand for the case for capitalism cannot invoke the term but that other nonnormative invisible hand processes are still useful tools. (shrink)
Robert Higgs's Crisis and Leviathan argues that there is a ratchet effect both after major wars and other serious crises, such as depressions: attitudinal or ideological changes lead not only to greater government spending but greater intrusion of government into economic command and control. Higgs's explanation of the growth of government, however, is embedded in and driven by a particular ideological view of the legal‐economic world, one that misapprehends certain legal‐economic fundamentals, including the scope of economic command and control, and (...) that fails to deal with certain interpretive complexities, including alternative explanations. (shrink)
Providing another key contribution to the immensely popular field of law and economics, this book, written by the doyen of the history of economic thought in the US, explores the dynamic relationship between economics, law and polity. Combining a selection of old and new essays by Warren J. Samuels that chart a number of key themes, it provides an important commentary on the development of an academic field and demonstrates how policy is structured and manipulated by human social construction. The (...) areas covered include: the role of manufactured belief power the nature and sources of rights the construction of markets by firms and governments and the problem of continuity and change in the form of the question of the selectively defined status quo and its status the absolutist character of government, rights, markets and legal principles and the accepted ideational structure of law. The Legal-Economic Nexus is an essential read both economists and legal professionals as well as those researching the history of economic thought and the social construction of law. (shrink)
The history of economic thought has always attracted some of the brightest minds in the discipline. These chroniclers of development have helped form our current views, and it is no surprise that many among them have been at the forefront of new movements in the history of ideas. This notable collection summarizes the work of these key historians of economics and attempts to quantify their impact. Some of the writers covered, such as Friedrich Hayek and Joan Robinson, are already assured (...) of their place among the greatest economists of the twentieth century, but the collection also stresses the influence of those still active in shaping our perceptions - including Mark Blaug, Samuel Hollander and Donald Winch. Written by an impressive roster of contributors, many of whom are themselves well-known in the history of economic thought, this key book features writings from John Creedy, Roger Blackhouse and Neil De Marchi, as well as the editors of the collection as a whole, Warren J. Samuels and Steven Medema. (shrink)
The Pareto principle is in fact the fundamental concept of welfare economics. However, it has serious analytical and heuristic limits, is selective and conservative in nature and use, and is heavily normative notwithstanding the pretensions by advocates of its positive character.
Exposition and defense of postmodernism in regards to epistemology and language in economics. Centers on truth versus tools and truth versus story while emphasizing social constructivism, methodological pluralism, and multiplicity of truth. Affirms quest for confident knowledge but emphasizes limitations with regard to results understood as truth. Defends and puts into perspective the charge of ?anything goes?. Adopts self-reflexive view of postmodernism itself.
Analyzes means and results of reduction of variables from evident multiplicity to a manageable few, the latter driven by conceptions of science and disciplinary paradigm and problem formulation. Attention is given to the use of such concepts as ?natural?, ?distortion?, ?anomalies?, and assumptions as to rights. To the inevitability of the selective reduction of multiplicity and complexity is juxtaposed the necessity of taking account thereof and of the limits thereby imposed on analysis.
Murray Rothbard's Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought demonstrates his mastery of the literature. But his interpretation of the development of economics reflects, and is therefore severely limited by, his Austrian?libertarian perspective. Indeed, Rothbard appropriates the history of economic thought principally to advance his perspective, as seen in his neglect of social control, his identification of his desired economic system with the natural order of things, and especially in his denigratory treatment of Adam Smith?at bottom for not being (...) an Austrian economist and a true libertarian. A partly informed, partly myopic and sometimes useful interpretation, this is the work of an ideologue. (shrink)
Markets are not given, transcendent and commanding. Markets are socially constructed, a function of interaction among both institutions normally seen as within the market and institutions of social control. The conventional theories of the firm, by Gardiner C. Means, Ronald Coase and others, do not go far enough when they are used as theories of the market. Markets are a function of the activities of firms to establish market structures of their own liking and of the impact of a wide (...) variety of government regulatory activities. Even law not deemed regulatory has impact on the existence, domain, character and structure of markets; moreover law is profoundly influenced by nominally private-sector activities brought to bear on and through government in the legal-economic nexus.Les marchés ne sont pas donnés, transcendents, ni dominants. Ils sont socialement construits. Ils sont le résultat dinteractions à la fois entre les institutions généralement perçues comme étant à lintérieur du marché et les institutions de réglementation. Les théories conventionnelles de lentreprise de Gardner C. Means, Ronald Coase, et des autres, ne sont pas assez abouties pour être utilisées en tant que théories du marché. Les marchés sont fonction des activités des entreprises qui établissent des structures de marché selon leurs propres préférences mais ils sont aussi fonction dune grande variété dactivités de réglementation. Même le droit qui nest pas réglementaire a une influence sur lexistence, le domaine, la nature, et la structure des marchés; de plus le droit dépend des activités du secteur privé qui exercent une influence sur, et à travers le gouvernement dans la sphère économico-juridique. (shrink)
Productivity and exploitation theories of distribution are identified as alternative discursive systems. Both are shown to have analytic and interpretive strengths but also to be relative vis-a-vis the bases by which conclusions in terms of exploitation and productivity, respectively, are reached and stated. A third, nonideological alternative mode of discourse is suggested: appropriation theory, focussing on power and inequality but without normative judgment. The work of Max Weber is used to illustrate appropriation theory.
Robert Higgs misunderstands me as suggesting that there is, in all societies, a mathematically constant level of coercion. My argument is that society and economy are fundamentally structures of coercion and governance, with selective perception being employed to choose which interests government will coercively protect. As a result coercion is ubiquitous?ideological preconceptions and material preferences to the contrary notwithstanding. Libertarianism consists of attractive sentiments but sentiments nonetheless. Higgs is participating in the process of determining the uses of government, not in (...) its minimization; a valuable process but not the latter one. (shrink)
Under the impressive editorship of Warren Samuels et al, this book addresses the state of the history of economic thought today. An important contribution to the study of the history of economics, this eagerly-awaited book will develop an unsurprisingly large following.