Ludwig von Mises’s methodological apriorism is frequently attributed to the broader Austrian School of economics, of which, of course, Mises was a prominent member. However, there is considerable controversy concerning the meaning of Mises’s various attempts to justify his apriorism. There are prima facie inconsistencies within and across Mises’s methodological writings that engender massive confusion in the secondary literature. This confusion is aggravated by the fact that Mises’s apriorism cannot be straightforwardly interpreted as an artifact of his historical milieu. Indeed, (...) the two prevailing families of interpretation both treat Mises’s apriorism as radically anachronistic, albeit in different senses. According to “extreme” interpretations, Mises’s apriorism reflects an epistemology several decades, if not centuries, beyond its expiration date. According to “moderate” interpretations, however, Mises’s apriorism anticipates ideas that would not appear in the epistemological literature for several decades to come. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that Mises’s actual methodological beliefs are not reflected in his writings, that Mises either obfuscated or exaggerated his methodological position, for whatever reasons, making it seem more radical than it was in fact. I conclude that we have no idea what justification Mises actually intended when he asserted the a priori nature of the fundamental propositions of economics. If this is right, then, whatever method(s) they follow, Austrian economists cannot (deliberately) follow Mises’s apriorism. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall defend two main claims. First, Friedman’s famous paper “On the methodology of positive economics” (“F53”) cannot be properly understood without taking into account the influence of three authors who are neither cited nor mentioned in the paper: Max Weber, Frank Knight, and Karl Popper. I shall trace both their substantive influence on F53 and the historical route by which this influence took place. Once one has understood these ingredients, especially Weber’s ideal types, many of F53’s (...) astonishing sentences like “the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions”, make good sense. Second, I shall claim that the much-discussed question whether Friedman’s essay espouses an instrumentalist or a realist position, is the wrong question to be asked. I shall illustrate that by a comparison with examples from physics in which also unrealistic assumptions are made. Also there, the question whether these assumptions are indicators of instrumentalism or realism is not appropriate. Cleared from these misunderstandings, F53 presents itself as an interesting and reasonable but much less controversial contribution to the methodology of economics. (shrink)
In this paper, we draw attention to the epistemological assumptions of market liberalism and standpoint theory and argue that they have more in common than previously thought. We show that both traditions draw on a similar epistemological bedrock, specifically relating to the fragmentation of knowledge in society and the fact that some of this knowledge cannot easily be shared between agents. We go on to investigate how market liberals and standpoint theorists argue with recourse to these similar foundations, and sometimes (...) diverge, primarily because of normative pre-commitments. One conclusion we draw from this is that these similarities suggest that market liberals ought to, by their own epistemological lights, be more attentive towards various problems raised by feminist standpoint theorists, and feminist standpoint theorists ought to be more open to various claims made by market liberals. (shrink)
At the centenary of Frank H. Knight’s Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit (1921), we explore the continuing relevance of Knightian uncertainty to the theory and practice of entrepreneurship. There are three challenges facing such assessment. First, RUP is complex and difficult to interpret. The key but neglected element of RUP is that Knight’s account is not solely about risk and uncertainty as states of nature, but about how an agent’s beliefs about uncertain outcomes and confidence in those beliefs guide their choices. (...) Second, RUP is Knight’s only effort in this area. His subsequent career led elsewhere, so he did not engage with subsequent interpretations of this work. Third, much of the current literature emphasizes that decisions must be different under the two states of nature with a consequent misunderstanding of entrepreneurial agency. This paper addresses each challenge in sequence. First, we explicate Knight’s (1921) approach and explain why that approach is murky. Second, as a complement to Knight’s interpretation, we examine Frank P. Ramsey’s approach to subjective probabilities to help clarify Knight’s murky approach. What links Knight and Ramsey is a shared pragmatism about entrepreneurial agency under uncertainty that depends upon the beliefs about, and confidence in, their judgments of possible outcomes. This Knight-Ramsey approach does not require actor’s behaviors to be determined by the class of uncertain environment (whether risk, uncertainty, or ambiguity) they face. We focus on the response by the entrepreneur to the existence of uncertainty in all its forms. We argue that this reductive account provides a foundation to examine common problems in management, including managerial hubris, the interaction between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and the need for experimentation (such as prototyping and market research) in advance of new product and venture launches. Third, we critique current literature that favors epistemic purism about the ontology of risk and uncertainty and ignores Knight-Ramsey pragmatism in meeting uncertainty, such as using formal and informal institutions for uncertainty mitigation. Our account locates Frank Knight’s subtleties in entrepreneurial behavior firmly in the literature on entrepreneurial agency a century later. (shrink)
Listening, seeing and reading Gilles Deleuze has had an influence on my thinking more than most of the economic writings I have consulted over the past quarter of a century. This discovery and furtherance of knowledge enriched my reflection and also allowed me to go beyond the general philosopher, as a philosopher opening the way to new horizons. It makes the researcher aware that the most important thing is not the philosopher man but the man philosopher, i.e. the one who (...) writes something that touches a human being at his deepest level and concerns him in his life every day. New generations of economists should meditate on this by going beyond the chapel quarrels coming from the Schumpeterian dichotomy 'science versus ideology'. To quote one of Deleuze's main ideas, no thinking against anything has been important over a long period; what counts are thoughts for something new that affect people's lives, and which are produced with rigor. This opens the way to a thought for life and not against life, which is in line with the progress of research in methodology, where it is a question of giving more importance to social ontology as a level of analysis and not focusing solely on epistemology in the narrowest sense. (shrink)
Da Gintis ein leitender Ökonom ist und ich einige seiner früheren Bücher mit Interesse gelesen habe, erwartete ich einige weitere Einblicke in das Verhalten. Leider, macht er die toten Hände der Gruppenauswahl und Phänomenologie in die Herzstücke seiner Verhaltenstheorien, und das macht die Arbeit weitgehend ungültig. Schlimmer noch, da er hier ein so schlechtes Urteilsvermögen an den Tag stellt, stellt er all seine bisherigen Arbeiten in Frage. Der Versuch, die Gruppenauswahl seiner Freunde in Harvard, Nowak und Wilson wiederzubeleben, vor ein (...) paar Jahren war einer der größten Skandale in der Biologie in den letzten zehn Jahren, und ich habe die traurige Geschichte in meinem Artikel "Altruismus, Jesus und das Ende der Welt – wie die Templeton Foundation kaufte eine Harvard-Professur und angegriffen Evolution, Rationalität und Zivilisation -- Eine Rezension von E.O. Wilson 'The Social Conquest of Earth' (2012) und Nowak und Highfield 'SuperCooperators' (2012). Im Gegensatz zu Nowak scheint Gintis nicht durch religiösen Fanatismus motiviert zu sein, sondern durch den starken Wunsch, eine Alternative zu den düsteren Realitäten der menschlichen Natur zu schaffen, die durch das (nahezu universelle) Unverständnis der grundlegenden menschlichen Biologie und des leeren Schiefers von Verhaltenswissenschaftlern, anderen Akademikern und der breiten Öffentlichkeit leicht gemacht wird. Gintis greift zu Recht (wie schon oft zuvor) Ökonomen, Soziologen und andere Verhaltensforscher an, weil sie keinen kohärenten Rahmen haben, um Verhalten zu beschreiben. Natürlich ist das Notwendige, um Das Verhalten zu verstehen, evolutionär. Leider bietet er selbst keine selbst (nach seinen vielen Kritikern und ich stimme zu), und der Versuch, die faule Leiche der Gruppenauswahl auf alle wirtschaftlichen und psychologischen Theorien zu transplantieren, die er in seiner jahrzehntelangen Arbeit erzeugt hat, macht nur sein gesamtes Projekt ungültig. Obwohl Gintis sich tapfer bemüht, die Genetik zu verstehen und zu erklären, wie Wilson und Nowak, ist er weit davon entfernt, ein Experte zu sein, und wie sie blendet ihn die Mathematik nur für die biologischen Unmöglichkeiten, und das ist natürlich die Norm in der Wissenschaft. Wie Wittgenstein auf der ersten Seite von Kultur und Wert bekannte: "Es gibt keine religiöse Konfession, in der der Missbrauch metaphysischer Ausdrücke für so viel Sünde verantwortlich war wie in der Mathematik." Es war immer glasklar, dass ein Gen, das Verhalten verursacht, das seine eigene Frequenz verringert, nicht bestehen kann, aber dies ist der Kern des Begriffs der Gruppenauswahl. Darüber hinaus ist bekannt und oft gezeigt, dass Gruppenauswahl nur auf inklusive Fitness reduziert (Verwandtise), die, wie Dawkins festgestellt hat, ist nur ein weiterer Name für evolution durch natürliche Selektion. Wie Wilson arbeitet Gintis seit etwa 50 Jahren in dieser Arena und hat sie immer noch nicht begriffen, aber nach dem Skandal hat es nur 3 Tage gedauert, bis ich die relevanteste professionelle Arbeit gefunden, gelesen und verstanden habe, wie in meinem Artikel beschrieben. Es ist ein Irrsinn zu erkennen, dass Gintis und Wilson nicht in der Lage waren, dies in fast einem halben Jahrhundert zu erreichen. Ich diskusere die Fehler der Gruppenauswahl und Phänomenologie, die in der Wissenschaft die Norm sind, als Sonderfälle des nahezu universellen Versagens, die menschliche Natur zu verstehen, die Amerika und die Welt zerstören. Wer aus der modernen zweisystems-Sichteinen umfassenden, aktuellen Rahmen für menschliches Verhalten wünscht, kann mein Buch "The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mindand Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle' 2nd ed (2019) konsultieren. Wer sich für mehr meiner Schriften interessiert, kann 'Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019) und Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019) sehen. (shrink)
Orthodox expected utility theory imposes too stringent restrictions on what attitudes to risk one can rationally hold. Focusing on a life-and-death gamble, I identify as the main culprit the theory’s Linearity property, according to which the utility of a particular change in the risk of a bad outcome is independent of the original level of risk. Finally, I argue that a recent non-standard Bayesian decision theory, that does not have this property, handles risky gambles better than the orthodox theory.
I consider recent strategies proposed by econometricians for extrapolating causal effects from experimental to target populations. I argue that these strategies fall prey to the extrapolator’s circle: they require so much knowledge about the target population that the causal effects to be extrapolated can be identified from information about the target alone. I then consider comparative process tracing as a potential remedy. Although specifically designed to evade the extrapolator’s circle, I argue that CPT is unlikely to facilitate extrapolation in typical (...) econometrics and evidence-based policy applications. To argue this, I offer a distinction between two kinds of extrapolation, attributive and predictive, the latter being prevalent in econometrics and evidence-based policy. I argue that CPT is not helpful for predictive extrapolation when using the kinds of evidence that econometricians and evidence-based policy researchers prefer. I suggest that econometricians may need to consider qualitative evidence to overcome this problem. (shrink)
Como Gintis es economista senior y he leído algunos de sus libros anteriores con interés, esperaba más información sobre el comportamiento. Tristemente, hace las manos muertas de selección de grupos y fenomenología en los centros de sus teorías de comportamiento, y esto invalida en gran medida la obra. Peor aún, ya que muestra tan mal juicio aquí, cuestiona todo su trabajo anterior. El intento de resucitar la selección grupal por sus amigos en Harvard, Nowak y Wilson, hace unos años fue (...) uno de los mayores escándalos en biología en la última década, y he contado la triste historia en mi artículo ' altruismo, Jesús y el fin del mundo-cómo el Templeton Foundation compró una Cátedra de Harvard y atacó la evolución, la racionalidad y la civilización--una revisión de E.O. Wilson ' la conquista social de la tierra ' (2012) y Nowak y Highfield ' SuperCooperators ' (2012). ' A diferencia de Nowak, Gintis no parece estar motivada por el fanatismo religioso, sino por el fuerte deseo de generar una alternativa a las realidades sombrías de la naturaleza humana, fácil por la falta de comprensión (casi universal) de la biología humana básica y el pizeísmo en blanco de científicos del comportamiento, otros académicos y el público en general. Gintis ataca con razón (como ha tenido muchas veces antes) a economistas, sociólogos y otros científicos del comportamiento por no tener un marco coherente para describir el comportamiento. Claro, el marco necesario para comprender el comportamiento es un uno evolutivo. Desafortunadamente él no proporciona uno mismo (de acuerdo con sus muchos críticos y Yo coincido), y el intento de injertar el cadáver podrido de selección de grupo en cualquier teoría económica y psicológica que ha generado en sus décadas de trabajo, simplemente invalida todo su proyecto . Aunque Gintis hace un valiente esfuerzo para entender y explicar la genética, como Wilson y Nowak, él está lejos de ser un experto, y como ellos, las matemáticas sólo lo ciega a las imposibilidades biológicas y, por supuesto, esta es la norma en la ciencia. Como señaló Wittgenstein en la primera página de la cultura y el valor "no hay denominación religiosa en la que el mal uso de las expresiones metafísicas ha sido responsable de tanto pecado como lo ha sido en matemáticas." Siempre ha sido cristalino que un gen que causa comportamiento que disminuye su propia frecuencia no puede persistir, pero este es el núcleo de la noción de selección de grupo. Además, ha sido bien sabido y a menudo demostró que la selección de grupos sólo se reduce a la aptitud inclusiva (selección de los parientes), que, como Dawkins ha señalado, es sólo otro nombre para la evolución por la selección natural. Al igual que Wilson, Gintis ha trabajado en esta arena durante unos 50 años y todavía no lo ha entendido, pero después de que el escándalo se rompió, me tomó sólo 3 días para encontrar, leer y entender el trabajo profesional más relevante, como se detalla en mi artículo. Es alucinante darse cuenta de que Gintis y Wilson fueron incapaces de lograr esto en casi medio siglo. Discuto los errores de selección de grupo y fenomenología que son la norma en el mundo académico como casos especiales de la falta casi universal de entender la naturaleza humana que están destruyendo América y el mundo. Aquellos que deseen un marco completo hasta la fecha para el comportamiento humano de la moderna dos sistemas punto de vista puede consultar mi libros Talking Monkeys 3ª ed (2019), Estructura Logica de Filosofia, Psicología, Mente y Lenguaje en Ludwig Wittgenstein y John Searle 2a ed (2019), Suicidio pela Democracia 4ª ed (2019), La Estructura Logica del Comportamiento Humano (2019), The Logical Structure de la Conciencia (2019, Entender las Conexiones entre Ciencia, Filosofía, Psicología, Religión, Política y Economía y Delirios Utópicos Suicidas en el siglo 21 5ª ed (2019), Observaciones sobre Imposibilidad, Incompletitud, Paraconsistencia, Indecidibilidad, Aleatoriedad, Computabilidad, Paradoja e Incertidumbre en Chaitin, Wittgenstein, Hofstadter, Wolpert, Doria, da Costa, Godel, Searle, Rodych Berto, Floyd, Moyal-Sharrock y Yanofsky y otras. (shrink)
It can be hard to see where money fits in the world. Money seems both real and imaginary, since it has obvious causal powers, but is also, just as obviously, something humans have just made up. Recent philosophical accounts of money have declared it to be real, but for very different reasons. John Searle and Francesco Guala disagree over whether money is just whatever acts like money, or just whatever people believe to be money. In developing their accounts of institutions (...) as a part of social reality, each uses money as a paradigm institution, but they disagree on how institutions exist. Searle argues that the institution of money belongs to an ontological level separate from the physical world, held up by the collective intentions of a group, while Guala claims that money is a part of the ordinary physical world and is just whatever performs a “money-like function” in a group, regardless of what that group believes about it. Here, we argue that any purely functional account like Guala’s will be unable to capture the distinctive phenomenon of money, since monetary transactions are defined by the attitudes transactors hold toward them. Money will be obscured or misidentified if defined functionally. As we go on to show by examining recent work by Smit et al., belief in money does not require taking on all of Searle’s ontological commitments, but money and mental contents will stand or fall together. (shrink)
This paper presents considerations on altruism and prosocial behaviour formulated on the basis of some experiments with the ultimatum game. In the first part it will discuss relations between expected utility theories, the characteristics of homo oeconomicus and a modern understanding of altruism. It will focus in particular on conceptual differences, indicating that we can find more than one definition of altruism in modern literature. The second part of the text will provide an overview of selected behavioural theories of prosocial (...) behaviour. It will also present the manner in which needs, social determinants, norms, and individual psychological features affect the propensity to behave in a prosocial fashion. (shrink)
Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology (RHETM) is a journal/book series dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to a broad range of topics related to the history and methodology of economics. Volumes are divided into four parts: a monothematic section dedicated to research articles focused on a particular issue in the journal’s core fields of interest, a section including research articles of a more general nature, a section of newly-discovered archival materials, and a section of review essays on (...) new works in the history and methodology of economics. Founded by Warren Samuels in 1982, Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology is one of the oldest publication outlets in the fields of economic methodology and the history of economic thought. (shrink)
Economics, as the volume editors Ivan Boldyrev and Ekaterina Svetlova submit, does not merely describe or explain, but also actively shapes—“performs”—the economy. This is how we may understand the performativity-of-economics thesis: Economists shape markets either directly, through the design of theories and policies based on them; or indirectly, through shaping cognitive infrastructures that economic agents use to make economic calculations, buy, and sell.
In this article the author considers the essential connection between liberal individualism, reforms and initiativeness. The author shows that liberal individualism has nothing in common with robinsonade, egoism and narrow view upon the things. On the contrary, it sets free the initiativeness of people and makes them active in social, economic and civil spheres. Consequently, if Ukrainians want the decentralization in all the spheres of life, then it is necessarily to realize the ideas of classical liberalism: liberty, equality and justice. (...) For the western countries of the later capitalism it is the passed way. Therefore in the article the author also considers the obstacles and the perspectives of the realization of ideas’ classical liberalism in Ukraine. (shrink)
Whatever F.A. Hayek meant by “knowledge” could not have been the justified true belief conception common in the Western intellectual tradition from at least the time of Plato onward. In this brief note, I aim to uncover and succinctly state Hayek’s unique definition of knowledge.
Best-selling books such as Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist have paved the way for the flourishing economics-made-fun genre. While books like these present economics as a strong and explanatory science, the ongoing economic crisis has exposed the shortcomings of economics to the general public. In the face of this crisis, many people, including well-known economists such as Paul Krugman, have started to express their doubts about whether economics is a success as a science. As well as academic papers, newspaper columns (...) with a large audience have discussed the failure of economic to predict and explain ongoing trends. The emerging picture is somewhat confusing: economics-made-fun books present economics as a method of thinking that can successfully explain everyday and "freaky" phenomena. On the other hand, however, economics seems to fail in addressing and explaining the most pressing matters related to the field of economics itself. This book explores the confusion created by this contradictory picture of economics. Could a science that cannot answer its own core questions really be used to explain the logic of everyday life? This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Economic Methodology. (shrink)
Chance Neutrality is the thesis that, conditional on some proposition being true, its chance of being true should be a matter of practical indifference. The aim of this article is to examine whether Chance Neutrality is a requirement of rationality. We prove that given Chance Neutrality, the Principal Principle entails a thesis called Linearity; the centerpiece of von Neumann and Morgenstern’s expected utility theory. With this in mind, we argue that the Principal Principle is a requirement of practical rationality but (...) that Linearity is not and, hence, that Chance Neutrality is not rationally required. (shrink)
Perhaps the topic of acceptable risk never had a sexier and more succinct introduction than the one Edward Norton, playing an automobile company executive, gave it in Fight Club: “Take the number of vehicles in the field (A), multiply it by the probable rate of failure (B), and multiply the result by the average out of court settlement (C). A*B*C=X. If X is less than the cost of the recall, we don’t do one.” Of course, this dystopic scene also gets (...) to the heart of the issue in another way: acceptable risk deals with mathematical calculations about the value of life, injury, and emotional wreckage, making calculation a difficult matter ethically, politically, and economically. This entry will explore the history of this idea, focusing on its development alongside statistics into its wide importance today. (shrink)
GILBERT JEAN FACCARELLO (Paris, 1950) is professor of economics at Université Panthéon-Assas, Paris, and a member of the Triangle research centre (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and CNRS). He is presently chair of the ESHET Council (European Society for the History of Economic Thought). He completed his doctoral research in economics at Université de Paris X Nanterre. He has previously taught at the Université de Paris-Dauphine, Université du Maine and École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay/Saint-Cloud (now École Normale Supérieure de Lyon). (...) He is a co-founder of The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, which he co-edited for 20 years with J. L. Cardoso, Heinz D. Kurz, and A. Murphy. With Alain Béraud, he edited the Nouvelle histoire de la pensée économique (La Découverte, 3 volumes, 1992-2000) and, together with Heinz D. Kurz, he is presently editing a Handbook of the History of Economic Analysis (3 volumes, forthcoming with Edward Elgar). -/- EJPE interviewed Gilbert Faccarello about his research career in the history of economic thought, where he has focused especially on old and new classical and Marxian political economy, and French political economy during the 18th and 19th centuries. G. Faccarello discusses his interest not only in the logical structure and context of the economic ideas of past thinkers but also the links between economic thought, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
Is subjective expert judgment a source of evidence in economics? In this paper, I will argue that it is, on a par with other sources like modeling, statistics, experimental, etc. I will also argue that it is not derivative, that is, reducible to the previous ones. But what is exactly the role of experts in economics? The contribution to the current methodological debate that I propose not only takes the role of expertise in economics as indispensable, but also suggests a (...) need for a methodology associated with that role. I defend an indispensability argument, and indirectly David Colander's plea for refocusing the methodological debate on the lost art of economics. Finally, I indicate where to look for guidelines in formulating a methodology of economic expertise. (shrink)
In 1987, George Soros introduced his concepts of reflexivity and fallibility and has further developed and applied these concepts over subsequent decades. This paper attempts to build on Soros's framework, provide his concepts with a more precise definition, and put them in the context of recent thinking on complex adaptive systems. The paper proposes that systems can be classified along a ‘spectrum of complexity’ and that under specific conditions not only social systems but also natural and artificial systems can be (...) considered ‘complex reflexive.’ The epistemological challenges associated with scientifically understanding a phenomenon stem not from whether its domain is social, natural, or artificial, but where it falls along this spectrum. Reflexive systems present particular challenges; however, evolutionary model-dependent realism provides a bridge between Soros and Popper and a potential path forward for economics. (shrink)
This paper analyses Soros' theory of reflexivity by breaking it down into several component concepts that are individually well analysed in existing literature – including performativity, self-reinforcing feedback loops and uncertainty. By focusing on the cognitive myopia implied by analytical monocultures and on the indeterminacy implied by innovation, it helps establish boundaries of applicability for reflexivity models. It argues that Soros largely ignores a key element in the formation of self-reinforcing delusions or market bubbles – the role played in conditions (...) of uncertainty by homogeneous social narratives and shared mental models. This paper also examines how social learning, rhetoric, power, emotional contagion, the discourse of ‘best practice’, ‘and Keynes' beauty contest may lead to such shared narratives and analytical homogeneity in markets. It concludes that market instability results when there is insufficient cognitive diversity or heterogeneity of beliefs among actors to enable them to spot anomalies and novelties. (shrink)
(2013). The Elgar companion to recent economic methodology. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 81-86. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774853.
(2013). Introduction: Methodology, systemic risk, and the economics profession. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 1-5. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774842.
(2013). Beyond mechanical markets – asset price swings, risk and the role of the state. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 69-75. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774856.
Economists usually assume that rational actions are the ones motivated by a self-interested agent. However in our daily life we often see people doing altruistic actions which we praise and which we do not call irrational. How can we account for this paradox? This question and the tension underlying it, is at the heart of Philip Pettit’s classic essay, “The Virtual Reality of Homo Economicus” (1995). This dissertation constitutes a detailed analysis and evaluation of the claims that Pettit makes there, (...) in particular his original proposal of reconciliation between economic science and common sense, and the role that self-interest occupies in his model. Despite its importance, there are still few written commentaries or critiques of Pettit’s essay (1995). Among the few, most concentrate on the thesis of resilience explanation that Pettit presents at the end of the essay. What is lacking in the literature is a thorough examination of the central claim that Pettit makes there, and which gives the title to his essay: namely, the thesis of the "virtual self-interested control". In my view, this constitutes one of the most sophisticated defences of the assumption of self-interest in rational choice theory and economics. Therefore, it is surprising that it has not been subjected to more discussion, and published research. In section 1, present some of the central concepts of rational choice theory and economics, namely the homo economicus. In section 2, I introduce Pettit’s model, and then evaluate in which sense it is a plausible model to explain the behaviour in non-market contexts. Section 3 presents my criticism of the shortcomings of the model. (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 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)
What is freedom? Can we measure it? Does it affect policy? This book develops an original measure of freedom called 'Autonomy Freedom', consistent with J. S. Mill's view of autonomy, and applies it to issues in policy and political design. The work pursues three aims. First, it extends classical liberalism beyond exclusive reliance on negative freedom so as to take autonomous behavior explicitly into account. Second, it grounds on firm conceptual foundations a new standard in the measurement of freedom that (...) can be fruitfully coupled with existing gauges. Third, it shows empirically that individual preferences for redistribution and cross-country differences in welfare spending in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries are driven by the degree of 'autonomy freedom' that individuals enjoy. By means of an interdisciplinary approach and a sophisticated econometric methodology, the book takes an explicit stand in defense of freedom and sets the basis for a liberalism based upon people's actions and institutions. (shrink)
Many social scientists think of exchange in terms far broader than philosophers. I defend the broader use of the term as well as the claim that meaningful human relationships are usefully understood as constituted by exchanges. I argue, though, that we must recognize that a great number of non-monetary and non-material goods are part of our daily lives and exchanges. Particularly important are emotional goods. I defend my view against the important objection that it demeans intimate relationships. As an addendum, (...) I also defend it against claims that economics cannot study such exchanges. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to address the problem of unemployment. Economists generally agree that a zero rate of unemployment is not only unattainable but also undesirable within capitalism. This is problematic because, as it will be shown, unemployment has adverse effects on both individuals and societies. Assuming that the primary aim of economics is to improve people’s lives, it behooves us to find a solution to the problem of unemployment. Two solutions will be offered. The first works within (...) the confines of the capitalist system –it requires instituting welfare policies that alleviate the adverse effects of unemployment. The second involves a paradigm change –it requires replacing capitalism with an alternative economic system that is consistent with a zero rate of unemployment. (shrink)
Par risques majeurs, on entend ceux qui s’attachent à des événements dont les conséquences défavorables, pour l’humanité ou pour l’environnement, sont d’une gravité exceptionnelle. On n’ajoutera ni que ces événements sont d’une intensité physique extrême, ni qu’ils surviennent rarement, car ce n’est pas toujours le cas. Seuls des risques majeurs de nature civile seront considérés dans cet ouvrage, et il s'agira, plus limitativement, de risques naturels, comme ceux d’inondation et de submersion marine, illustrés par la tempête Xynthia en 2010, de (...) risques technologiques industriels, comme celui d’une explosion d'usine, illustré par la catastrophe AZF en 2001, et de risques nucléaires, pour autant qu’ils mettent en jeu les dangers de la radioactivité, et qu’illustrent, hors de France, les catastrophes de Three Miles Island (1979), Tchernobyl (1986) et Fukushima (2011), -/- Conçu comme un rapport destiné au Conseil d'analyse économique (CAE) du Premier Ministre français, l'ouvrage comporte une introduction traitant du risque majeur pris en général (section 1). Dans sa partie principale, il aborde les trois risques majeurs qu'il a sélectionnés à travers les prismes successifs de la géographie et de la technologie (section 2), de l’histoire institutionnelle et juridique (section 3), enfin d’un bilan normatif accompagné de recommandations pour l'action publique (section 4). -/- Neuf compléments spécialisés, dus à d'autres auteurs, complètent l'ouvrage. Ils portent sur des aspects technologiques (F. Ménage; A. Quantin et D. Moucoulon; P. Saint-Raymond), juridiques (V. Sanseverino-Godfrin), économiques généraux (C. Grislain-Letrémy et B. Villeneuve; R. Lahidji; J. Percebois; A. Schmitt et S. Spaeter) et financiers (M. Pappalardo) et ils concernent principalement le risque nucléaire. -/- Dans cet ensemble de vaste format, on espère avoir su proposer, non seulement des évaluations et des préconisations destinées aux pouvoirs publics, comme il convenait au projet initial de rapport, mais aussi une synthèse qui soit utilisable par tous ceux - décideurs, scientifiques ou simples observateurs - que préoccupent les questions de risques majeurs. (shrink)
Third-party decision-makers, orspectators, have emerged as a useful empirical tool in modern social science research on moral motivation. Spectators of a sort also serve a central role in Adam Smith's moral theory. This paper compares these two types of spectatorship with respect to their goals, methodologies, visions of human nature and emphasis on moral rules. I find important similarities and differences and conclude that this comparison suggests significant opportunities for philosophical ethics to inform empirical and theoretical research on moral preferences (...) and vice versa. (shrink)
"I do solemnly swear" -- Economics in practice : what do economists do? -- Ethical challenges confronting the applied economist -- Historical perspective : "don't predict the interest rate!" -- Interpreting the silence : the economic case against professional economic ethics -- The economic case against professional economic ethics : a rebuttal -- The positive case for professional economic ethics -- Learning from others : ethical thought across the professions -- Economists as social engineers : an ethical evaluation of market (...) liberalization in the south and transition economies -- Global economic crisis and the crisis in economics -- On sleeping too well : in search of professional economic ethics -- Training the "ethical economist" -- The economist's oath. (shrink)
Analytic induction (AI) is an interpretation of scientific method that emerged in early twentieth-century sociology and still has some influence today. Among the studies often cited as examples are Becker’s articles on marijuana use. While these have been given less attention than the work of Lindesmith on opiate addiction and Cressey on financial trust violation, Becker’s work has distinctive features. Furthermore, it raises some important and interesting issues that relate not only to AI but to social scientific explanation more generally. (...) These concern, for example, the presence and nature of causal systems in the social world, the relationship between historical and generalizing approaches, the character and role of social scientific theories, and how they are generated. In this article Becker’s research is examined in detail, and these issues explored through comparisons with the work of Lindesmith and Cressey. (shrink)
This article argues that the (epi)genetic, cultural, symbolic, and environmental transmission channels are insufficient to explain the structure of modern human societies. Economic exchange of knowledge embodied in goods and services constitutes an additional transmission channel that makes more efficient use of limited human cognitive capacity. Economic exchange results in a gradual shift in societies from task-based division of labor to cognitive specialization. This shifts scarce cognitive resources away from production and into learning. It accelerates learning and reinforces the drive (...) towards specialization. Cognitive specialization may constitute another “major transition” towards a higher level of aggregation in human societies, with properties that differ from symbolic transmission. Collective control of individual market-based exchange is ensured by means of economic institutions that put a constraint on individual behavior. (shrink)
The frequency of historical materialist explanations in evolutionary social sciences is very low even though historical materialism and evolutionism have great many shared aims towards explaining the long term social change. David Laibman in his Deep History (2007) picks up some of the standard questions of evolutionary social theory and aims at advancing the conception of historical materialism so as to develop a Marxist theory of history from an evolutionary point of view. The contribution of Laibman’s work is to show (...) that historical and materialist explanations are present both in Marxian and evolutionary interpretations of history, and moreover, the traditional borders of historical materialism can be enlarged so as to embrace evolutionary methodology in explaining social change. The unbalanced research methodology of Laibman’s work, however, reduces the evolutionary depth of his contribution. The two main shortcomings of Laibman’s work are discussed under the titles of “The Audience Problem” and “The Evolutionary Problem”. (shrink)