Philosophy of Economics

Edited by Anna Alexandrova (Cambridge University)
Assistant editor: Jack Wright (Cambridge University)
About this topic
Summary Philosophy of economics is a study of any philosophical issue that arises in connection with the discipline of economics. Currently it has three core areas: foundations, methodology and ethics. Foundations of economics encompass conceptual and metaphysical questions such as the nature of rationality and social ontology, seeking to clarify what we study when we study economics (preferences, individuals, institutions, societies etc?) and their properties and relations to each other. Methodology of economics, following on the traditional questions in philosophy of science, is concerned with the nature of knowledge that can be attained about the economy and its sources.  The ethical side of philosophy of economics is a study of normative issues such as justice, efficiency, equality, welfare, paternalism, coercion and such, that arise at the intersection of political philosophy and welfare economics.
Key works Daniel Hausman is responsible for kickstarting much of contemporary philosophy of economics. Hausman 2008 is a comprehensive encyclopedia article. Hausman 2007 is an anthology of classic essays from to J.S Mill and Marx to the present day. Hausman et al 2006 is a seminal study of normative assumptions in economics and their critical study. Hausman 1992 started and still informs many discussions in methodology of economics. Reiss 2009 presents an updated agenda. Mäki 2001 is a collection on the ontology of economics.
Introductions There is now a textbook in philosophy of economics: Reiss 2013. Other good introductions to philosophy of economics are just introductions to philosophy of social science: for example, Rosenberg 1995, Risjord 2014, and Elster 2007.
Related categories
Subcategories:
See also:History/traditions: Philosophy of Economics

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  1. A Review on Katzner’s Models, Mathematics and Methodology in Economic Explanation, Cambridge University Press 2018.Aki Lehtinen - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-5.
    A review of Donald Katzner's book on economic modelling is provided. In addition to characterising the book, I give critical comments on the distinction between primary and secondary assumptions.
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  2. Sugden’s Community of Advantage.Geoffrey Brennan & Hartmut Kliemt - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-11.
    Starting from a behavioural-economics critique of standard rational choice theory Sugden seeks to restate the case for classical liberalism. That case has three strands: a refutation of libertarian...
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  3. Kant on Remote Working: A Moral Defence.Fausto Corvino - 2021 - Philosophy of Management:1-15.
    In this article I maintain that when employers could free workers from the space constraint of the office without incurring unbearable economic losses, it is morally wrong not to grant workers the possibility to work remotely, as this violates the humanity formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative. The article therefore aims to contribute to the development of Kantian business ethics, taking into account a series of empirical evidence gathered in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. I firstly discuss the Kantian concept (...)
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  4. 能动性与社会动力学——经济学哲学与社会科学哲学论文集 (Agency and Social Dynamics: Essays in the Philosophy of Economics and the Social Sciences).Francesco Di Iorio & Jun Hu (eds.) - 2021 - Nankai University Press.
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  5. Learning From Lucas.Thomas J. Sargent - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-13.
    This paper recollects meetings with Robert E. Lucas, Jr. over many years. It describes how, through personal interactions and studying his work, Lucas taught me to think about economics.
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  6. Lucas’s Way to His Monetary Theory of Large-Scale Fluctuations.Peter Galbács - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-13.
    This introductory paper offers a look into the intellectual and technical progress that led Robert E. Lucas to his seminal paper entitled Expectations and the neutrality of money. It is argued that...
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  7. In Defense of Behavioral Welfare Economics.B. Douglas Bernheim - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-16.
    In The Community of Advantage, Robert Sugden advocates an opportunity-oriented framework for normative analysis, positions it a substitute for behavioral welfare economics, and criticizes the latte...
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  8. A Response to Six Comments on The Community of Advantage.Robert Sugden - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-12.
    This paper responds to six contributions to a symposium on my 2018 book, The Community of Advantage. I defend that book's claim that most normative behavioural economics implicitly uses a psycholog...
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  9. The Limits of Opportunity-Only: Context-Dependence and Agency in Behavioral Welfare Economics.Malte F. Dold & Mario J. Rizzo - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-10.
    What should be the ‘informational base’ of welfare economics if one takes the insights from behavioral economics seriously? Sugden proposes individuals’ sets of opportunities. This paper discusses...
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  10. Voluntary Agreements.Cass R. Sunstein - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-8.
    In philosophy, economics, and law, the idea of voluntary agreements plays a central role. But contractarianism in political philosophy stands on altogether different grounds from enthusi...
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  11. Does Utilitarianism Need a Rethink? Review of Louis Narens and Brian Skyrms' The Pursuit of Happiness.Heather Browning & Walter Veit - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-5.
    Philosophers have typically shown high confidence in their evaluations of Utilitarianism, whether as an endorsement or a disparagement. Rarely, however, has much effort been spent on investigating...
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  12. The Collaborative Economy in Action: Context and Outline of Country Reports.Andrzej Klimczuk, Vida Česnuitytė & Gabriela Avram - 2021 - In Andrzej Klimczuk, Vida Česnuitytė & Gabriela Avram (eds.), The Collaborative Economy in Action: European Perspectives. Limerick: University of Limerick. pp. 6–21.
    The term collaborative economy itself is relatively new, and according to the European Commission, the term is used interchangeably with the term sharing economy. The term SE was frequently used when early models, such as Airbnb or ZipCar, appeared and gained popularity, especially in the United States, but it was afterwards substituted with the term CE in the European contexts. The country reports in this collection often use the two terms interchangeably, further illustrating the fact that a generally agreed definition (...)
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  13. The Collaborative Economy in Action: European Perspectives.Andrzej Klimczuk, Vida Česnuitytė & Gabriela Avram (eds.) - 2021 - Limerick: University of Limerick.
    The book titled The Collaborative Economy in Action: European Perspectives is one of the important outcomes of the COST Action CA16121, From Sharing to Caring: Examining the Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy that was active between March 2017 and September 2021. The Action was funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology - COST. The main objective of the COST Action Sharing and Caring is the development of a European network of researchers and practitioners interested in investigating the (...)
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  14. Escaping Paternalism: Rationality, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy.Philip Arthur - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-5.
    In their new book Escaping Paternalism, Glen Whitman and Mario Rizzo try to persuade readers to be skeptical of behavioral paternalism. Rizzo and Whitman describe behavioral...
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  15. Self-Fulfilling Science.Charles Lowe - 2021 - Berlin: De Gruyter.
    Claims that science may become 'self-fulfilling' through its impact on objects of study have recently risen to prominence. Despite radical statements about the supposed consequences of such accounts, however, the central notion of scientific self-fulfillment has remained obscure, leading to skewed views of its actual prevalence and significance. -/- Self-Fulfilling Science illuminates this underexplored phenomenon, drawing on insights from philosophy of science to address questions of its conceptualization, prevalence, and significance. The book critically engages with the popular notion that economic (...)
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  16. Bolívar Echeverría y el concepto de 'abudancia'.Yankel Peralta García & Yankel Peralta García - 2020 - Revista de Ciencias Sociales 1 (42):94-104.
    This paper discusses Bolivar Echeverria’s concept of «abundance» in the specific sense of “surplus”. The criticism that we formulate is based on the Marxist conceptual affinity between “surplus” and “surplus-product”, understanding the latter as objectification of “surplus-labour”. In Marxist terms “surplus-labour” stands for a workday segment under conditions of exploitation. According to this, we believe that the echeverrian concept of “abundance” fails in its attempt to rise above the productivist and capitalist frame of thought.
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  17. Money Without State.Andrew M. Bailey, Bradley Rettler & Craig Warmke - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    In this article, we describe what cryptocurrency is, how it works, and how it relates to familiar conceptions of and questions about money. We then show how normative questions about monetary policy find new expression in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. These questions can play a role in addressing not just what money is, but what it should be. A guiding theme in our discussion is that progress here requires a mixed approach that integrates philosophical tools with the purely technical results (...)
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  18. The Moral Landscape of Monetary Design.Andrew M. Bailey, Bradley Rettler & Craig Warmke - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    In this article, we identify three key design dimensions along which cryptocurrencies differ -- privacy, censorship-resistance, and consensus procedure. Each raises important normative issues. Our discussion uncovers new ways to approach the question of whether Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies should be used as money, and new avenues for developing a positive answer to that question. A guiding theme is that progress here requires a mixed approach that integrates philosophical tools with the purely technical results of disciplines like computer science and (...)
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  19. La normativité en science économique. Une perspective pratique, historique et philosophique.Louis Larue & Thomas Mueller - 2018 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 116 (2):147-150.
    Introduction au Numéro spécial de la Revue Philosophique de Louvain.
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  20. La Normativité En Science Économique.Louis Larue & Thomas Mueller - 2018 - Leuven, Belgium: Peeters.
    Numéro spécial de la Revue Philosophique de Louvain. Avec des contributions de Philippe Mongin, François Maniquet, Irènne Berthonnet, Louis Larue et Thomas M. Mueller.
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  21. Punishment and Disagreement in the State of Nature.Jacob Barrett - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (3):334-354.
    Hobbes believed that the state of nature would be a war of all against all. Locke denied this, but acknowledged that in the absence of government, peace is insecure. In this paper, I analyse both accounts of the state of nature through the lens of classical and experimental game theory, drawing especially on evidence concerning the effects of punishment in public goods games. My analysis suggests that we need government not to keep wicked or relentlessly self-interested individuals in line, but (...)
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  22. Punishment and Disagreement in the State of Nature.Jacob Barrett - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (3):334-354.
    Hobbes believed that the state of nature would be a war of all against all. Locke denied this, but acknowledged that in the absence of government, peace is insecure. In this paper, I analyse both accounts of the state of nature through the lens of classical and experimental game theory, drawing especially on evidence concerning the effects of punishment in public goods games. My analysis suggests that we need government not to keep wicked or relentlessly self-interested individuals in line, but (...)
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  23. Institutions and Their Strength.Frank Hindriks - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-18.
    Institutions can be strong or weak. But what does this mean? Equilibrium theories equate institutions with behavioural regularities. In contrast, rule theories explicate them in terms of a standard that people are supposed to meet. I propose that, when an institution is weak, a discrepancy exists between the regularity and the standard or rule. To capture this discrepancy, I present a hybrid theory, the Rules-and-Equilibria Theory. According to this theory, institutions are rule-governed behavioural regularities. The Rules-and-Equilibria Theory provides the basis (...)
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  24. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics.Alain Marciano & Giovanni Battista Ramello (eds.) - 2018 - Springer.
    Law and Economics deals with the economic analysis of legal relations, legal provisions, laws and regulations and is a research field which has a long tradition in economics. It was lost after the expulsion of some of the leading economists from Germany during 1933 to 1938, but then revived in Chicago. Both the subject of Law of Economics and the need for a concise Encyclopedia is particularly relevant in Europe today. Currently in the European Union there are several different legal (...)
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  25. The Economics and Philosophy of Risk.H. Orri Stefansson - forthcoming - In Conrad Heilmann & Julian Reiss (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics.
    Neoclassical economists use expected utility theory to explain, predict, and prescribe choices under risk, that is, choices where the decision-maker knows---or at least deems suitable to act as if she knew---the relevant probabilities. Expected utility theory has been subject to both empirical and conceptual criticism. This chapter reviews expected utility theory and the main criticism it has faced. It ends with a brief discussion of subjective expected utility theory, which is the theory neoclassical economists use to explain, predict, and prescribe (...)
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  26. Life as a Trust Game. A Comment on The Option Value of Life.Grégory Ponthière - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    According to Burri (2020), a major reason why suicide is often irrational lies in the option value of life. Remaining alive is valuable because this allows for a larger menu of options, and the possibility of committing suicide in the future adds further value to the act of remaining alive now. In this note, I represent life as a trust game played by two selves – the young self and the old self – and I argue that the possibility to (...)
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  27. Assessing Farmers’ Intention Towards Conservation Agriculture by Using the Extended Theory of Planned Behavior.Riffat Ara Zannat Tama, Liu Ying, Man Yu, Md Mahmudul Hoque, K. M. Mehedi Adnan & Swati Anindita Sarker - 2021 - Journal of Environmental Management 1 (280):1-10.
    Conservation agriculture is considered as an agro-ecological approach to the sustainable and resource-saving crop production system. Previous studies on the adoption of agricultural innovation often consider socio-economic characteristics and overlook underlying psychological factors influencing farmers' behavioral intention. This study adopted three socio-psychological constructs, Attitude, Subjective Norm (SN), and Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC), which originated from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and proposed two new constructs, Knowledge (K) and Perceived Climatic Threats of Conventional Farming (PCTCV). Using the Extended Theory of (...)
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  28. When Does Complementarity Support Pluralism About Schools of Economic Thought?Teemu Lari - 2021 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (3):322-335.
    An intuitively appealing argument for pluralism in economics can be made on the grounds that schools of economic thought complement one another. Let us call this the complementarity-based argument...
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  29. A Qualitative Study of Perception of a Dishonesty Experiment.Nikola Frollová, Marek Vranka & Petr Houdek - 2021 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (3):274-290.
    We conducted focus groups with participants of a laboratory experiment on cheating with the aim to describe and structure participants’ lived experience with the experiment and to compare their per...
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  30. Building Comparison Spaces: Harold Hotelling and Mathematics for Economics.Marion Gaspard & Thomas M. Mueller - 2021 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (3):255-273.
    Harold Hotelling’s articles in mathematical economics from the 1930s are classics. Some are keystones of entire sub-disciplines of economic theory such as location economics [Hotelling...
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  31. There is No Core to Precaution.Mariam Thalos - 2009 - Review Journal of Political Philosophy 7:41-49.
    This paper challenges Gardiner’s (2006) contention that his Core Precautionary Principle (CPP) “tracks our [precautionary] intuitions about some core cases, including the paradigmatic environmental ones”. And instead sketches a handful of precautionary practices in navigational systems that (collectively) do better at tracking these “intuitions”. There is no way of measuring these diverse practices as to relative weakness or strength against each other. And ultimately it makes little sense to talk about precautionary principles on any strength scale—as Gardiner (2006) aspires to (...)
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  32. A Restatement of Expected Comparative Utility Theory: A New Theory of Rational Choice Under Risk.David Robert - 2021 - Philosophical Forum 52 (3):221-243.
    In this paper, I argue for a new normative theory of rational choice under risk, namely expected comparative utility (ECU) theory. I first show that for any choice option, a, and for any state of the world, G, the measure of the choiceworthiness of a in G is the comparative utility (CU) of a in G—that is, the difference in utility, in G, between a and whichever alternative to a carries the greatest utility in G. On the basis of this (...)
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  33. Discussion Article: Comments on Joao Pinheiro da Silva's Paper: 'Popperian Hayek or Hayekian Popper?'.Mark Amadeus Notturno - 2021 - Economic Thought 10 (1):61.
  34. Popperian Hayek or Hayekian Popper?Joao Pinheiro da Silva - 2021 - Economic Thought 10 (1):46.
    Friedrich Hayek was a fervent advocate of the methodological specificity of the social sciences. However, given his contact with Karl Popper, several historians and philosophers have characterised his final position as Popperian, that is, a position that would have accepted the unity of the scientific method. A closer look at Hayek's philosophy and Popper's own intellectual course shows that such a thesis is based on some misconceptions that can be overcome by taking the Hayekian concept of 'spontaneous order' as the (...)
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  35. Relevance of Chaos and Strange Attractors in the Samuelson-Hicks Oscillator.Jean-Francois Verne - 2021 - Economic Thought 10 (1):32.
    In this paper, we look for the relevance of chaos in the well-known Hicks-Samuelson's oscillator model investigating the endogenous fluctuations of the national income between two limits: full employment income and under-employment income. We compute the Lyapunov exponent, via Monte- Carlo simulations, to detect chaos in the evolution of the income between both limits. In the case of positive Lyapunov exponent and large values of the parameter, the evolution of income is seen to be chaotic. The model also may contain (...)
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  36. Learning to Treat Our Natural World Realistically Through Unlearning Mainstream Economics? A Commentary on the Recent Work of Peter Soderbaum.Jamie Morgan - 2021 - Economic Thought 10 (1):14.
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  37. The Challenge of Sustainable Development: From Technocracy to Democracy-Oriented Political Economics.Peter Soderbaum - 2021 - Economic Thought 10 (1):1.
    Mainstream neoclassical economics, as well as heterodox schools, should be regarded as different kinds of 'political economics'. There is no value-free economics. We therefore need to bring democracy into economics. The present challenge of sustainable development suggests that a new conceptual framework in economics is needed. In this essay, a political and democratic view of individuals, organisations, decision-making, markets, assessment of investment projects and policy options is proposed. The imperative of democracy also implies that the close-to-monopoly position of neoclassical theory (...)
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  38. What’s (Successful) Extrapolation?Donal Khosrowi - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-13.
    Extrapolating causal effects is becoming an increasingly important kind of inference in Evidence-Based Policy, development economics, and microeconometrics more generally. While several strategies...
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  39. Three Accounts of Intrinsic Motivation in Economics: A Pragmatic Choice?Blaž Remic - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-16.
    This paper argues that the concept of intrinsic motivation has been used by economists in inconsistent ways because the underlying theories of intrinsic motivation, imported into economics from psy...
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  40. Tassare l’Anidride Carbonica Per Ridurre il Cuneo Fiscale: Una Proposta Per la Sinistra Europea.Fausto Corvino - 2021 - Economia E Politica:1-5.
    Molti esperti concordano sul fatto che la pandemia di Covid-19 sia l'occasione giusta per iniziare a tassare l’anidride carbonica, ora che la domanda e quindi anche il prezzo dei combustibili fossili sono scesi. Tuttavia, la carbon tax continua ad essere vista con sospetto, soprattutto tra i progressisti, che temono che questa misura abbia effetti regressivi. Allo stesso tempo, i sostenitori di una carbon tax a entrate positive, che finanzi investimenti in progetti ecologici, rischiano di allarmare eccessivamente l’elettorato conservatore. In questo (...)
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  41. Enough Is Too Much: The Excessiveness Objection to Sufficientarianism.Carl Knight - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    The standard version of sufficientarianism maintains that providing people with enough, or as close to enough as is possible, is lexically prior to other distributive goals. This article argues that this is excessive - more than distributive justice allows - in four distinct ways. These concern the magnitude of advantage, the number of beneficiaries, responsibility and desert, and above-threshold distribution. Sufficientarians can respond by accepting that providing enough unconditionally is more than distributive justice allows, instead balancing sufficiency against other considerations.
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  42. Probability and Arguments: Keynes’s Legacy.William Peden - forthcoming - Cambridge Journal of Economics:1-18.
    John Maynard Keynes’s A Treatise on Probability is the seminal text for the logical interpretation of probability. According to his analysis, probabilities are evidential relations between a hypothesis and some evidence, just like the relations of deductive logic. While some philosophers had suggested similar ideas prior to Keynes, it was not until his Treatise that the logical interpretation of probability was advocated in a clear, systematic and rigorous way. I trace Keynes’s influence in the philosophy of probability through a heterogeneous (...)
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  43. A Truly Invisible Hand: The Critical Value of Foucauldian Irony.Carlos Palacios - 2021 - Critical Times 4 (1):48-72.
    Critical theory has long resisted the notion that an “invisible hand” can operate within the real social dynamics of a free market. But despite the most radical desires of the socially critical imagination, the optimization of that “spontaneous order” or depersonalized way of ordering things known as “the economy” has become the dominant playing field and decisive electoral issue of modern politics. Within this broad contemporary context, Michel Foucault made a strange theoretical intervention that, to this day, continues to baffle (...)
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  44. A Dilemma for Lexical and Archimedean Views in Population Axiology.Elliott Thornley - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    According to lexical views in population axiology, there are good lives x and y such that some number of lives equally good as x is not worse than any number of lives equally good as y. Such views can avoid the Repugnant Conclusion without violating Transitivity or Separability, but they imply a dilemma: either some good life is better than any number of slightly worse lives, or else the ‘at least as good as’ relation on populations is radically incomplete, in (...)
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  45. Sweatshops, Harm and Exploitation: A Proposal to Operationalise the Model of Structural Injustice.Fausto Corvino - 2020 - Conatus - Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):9-23.
    In this article, I firstly discuss the person-affecting view of harm, distinguishing between the liability and the structural models of responsibility, and also explaining why it is unsatisfactory, from a moral point of view, to interpret a given harm as a loss with respect to a diachronic baseline. Then, I take sweatshops as an example and I entertain two further issues that are related to the assessment of harm and that are necessary for operationalising a comprehensive model of responsibility, that (...)
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  46. İktisat Bilimi ve Bilimsel İlerleme.Ercan Eren - 2021 - İktisat Ve Toplum Dergisi 124:99-110.
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  47. Lifting Lockdown – a Tragedy of the Commons.Fausto Corvino - 2020 - openDemocracy.
    The lifting of lockdown is a typical case of the tragedy of the commons, and as such should be regulated by public authority, instead of being left to the ethics and responsibility of single individuals. I would therefore argue that we should think about an intermediate phase between the lockdown and the opening of shops (which in the Italian case is the transition from the red zone to the orange zone): diversified access to commercial activities, on an hourly basis, for (...)
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  48. Mechanistic Explanations in Physics and Beyond.Brigitte Falkenburg & Gregor Schiemann (eds.) - 2019 - Dordrecht, Niederlande: Springer.
    This volume offers a broad, philosophical discussion on mechanical explanations. Coverage ranges from historical approaches and general questions to physics and higher-level sciences . The contributors also consider the topics of complexity, emergence, and reduction. Mechanistic explanations detail how certain properties of a whole stem from the causal activities of its parts. This kind of explanation is in particular employed in explanatory models of the behavior of complex systems. Often used in biology and neuroscience, mechanistic explanation models have been often (...)
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  49. Developing Paradise - Tourism, Local Community and Nature in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic.John Ripton - 2013 - Journal of International and Global Studies 5 (1):34-60.
    Las Terrenas, a town in the Samana province of the Dominican Republic, has experienced phenomenal growth of its tourist industry. Electricity only arrived in Las Terrenas in the late 1990s, yet today, more than 70 hotels and other establishments offer thousands of rooms in tourist accommodations. In little more than two decades, the population of Las Terrenas has mushroomed from a few hundred to nearly 20,000. While the forces of commercial development integrate Las Terrenas into the global economy, its municipal (...)
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  50. Restoring Constitution: Saving Performativity From Mäki’s Critique.Mickey Peled - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):51-65.
    ABSTRACTThis paper aims to solve a fundamental critique of the research project of the performativity of economics. The critique by philosopher Uskali Mäki strikes the concept of performativity in...
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