nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2006‒04‒29
six papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. Quantum Mechanics and Mathematical Economics are Isomorphic. John von Neumann between Physics and Economics. By L. Lambertini
  2. "Markets, Democracy and Economic Justice in the Age of Postmodernism: Fictions, "Factions", or Frictions" By Haider A. Khan
  3. Chapter 17 of Keynes' General Theory: The Mystery Unveiled By Franco Donzelli
  4. Ethics in management: Exploring the contribution of Mary Parker Follett By Mele, Domenec
  5. Diversity and Pluralism: An Economist's View By Nicola Genovese; Maria Grazia La Spada
  6. Democratic capital: The nexus of political and economic change By Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini

  1. By: L. Lambertini
  2. By: Haider A. Khan (GIGS, University of Denver)
    Abstract: This paper starts with an initial gesture accepting the validity of many of the criticisms of modernity by some leading postmodern thinkers.From this initial position, it then evalutess the postmodernist positions themselves with regards to democracy and justice by paying careful attention to the arguments of these leading postmodernists Following this procedure, Lyotard's characterization of the discourse on morality and justice as phrase-regimes can be shown to lead to an ethical impasse. His appeal to the Kantian sublime, in this context, would seem to be a category mistake. The aesthetic category of sublime does not fit the requirements of moral judgments even in Kantian terms. Epistemologically, the postmodern dilemma arises from a correct critique of metaphysics and transcendentalism. However, the critique is partial and negative. It is partial in the sense that it does not take the challenge of Kant to develop normativity seriously enough to explore alternatives as Hegel did. It, therefore, pursues entirely the negative critical path leading to thoroughgoing skepticism and nihilism.Derrida's belated attempts to rescue philosophy from a linguistic nihilism may succeed. But it still falls far short of offering a positive account of normativity.This paper offere as an alternative to natural law and transcendental norms an approach based on Hegel's explorations in dialectics. Following this alternative offers a way of exploring democracy and economic justice. A concrete set of institutions consistent with the development of self-determination can be seen as necessary for the idea of economic justice to have meaning. In the spheres of production, distribution, exchange, law and contracts among others, the development of appropriate economic and political institutions allowing this inter-subjective idea of freedom to unfold becomes the thematic development of economic justice.At the microlevel, by carefully considering poststructuralist psychoanalytical theory of Lacan and others a dynamically oriented approach to the question of the subject becomes possible. Pre-Freudian thinkers such as Hegel or Marx did not see the formation of the individual in all its deeply problematic aspects.A continuum of subjectivity ending with the fully liberated individual offers various possible levels of moral agency. In an economically and socially unjust setting radical analytic and social interventions will be necessary for these possibilities to materialize.
    Date: 2006–04
  3. By: Franco Donzelli (Universita' degli Studi di Milano)
    Abstract: In Chapter 17 of the General Theory (henceforth GT) Keynes tries to generalize the standard GT model, which can be found expounded in the preceding sixteen Chapters of his well-known book, by developing an "extended" model of portfolio choice and capital-asset pricing based on a newly devised notion of "own rate of interest". Yet Keynes' attempt can hardly be regarded as successful: in fact, soon after the publication of the GT, Keynes himself apparently gives up defending the peculiar traits of his "extended" model, while most early Keynesians show perplexity or even positive hostility towards the theoretical contents of Chapter 17 of the GT. In this paper we shall unveil the many mysteries still surrounding the conception, interpretation, meaning, and possible uses of the conceptual apparatus and theoretical system put forward by Keynes in Chapter 17 of his book. After clarifying Keynes' motivations and purposes in writing that Chapter, we shall compare its central analytical concept, the "own rate of interest", with a few concepts of "commodity" rates of interest that are explicitly cited, or implicitly hinted at, by Keynes as possible sources of inspiration for his theory: namely, we shall examine two alternative notions of real rate of interest, respectively called the "loan-in-kind" and the "payment-in-advance" rate of interest; then, after analyzing Sraffa's notion of "futures" rate of interest, we shall conclude our review of the relevant literature by discussing Fisher's notion of "expected" rate of interest. Finally, after formally restating Keynes' "extended" model, as informally expounded in Chapter 17 of the GT, we shall trace back the failure of Keynes' attempts at generalizing his theory in that Chapter to his poor value theory, which, being rooted in Marshall's partial equilibrium analysis, proves desperately inadequate to tackle the truly general equilibrium problem posed in Chapter 17.
    Keywords: Keynes, money, interest rates, asset pricing, general equilibrium and disequilibrium,
    Date: 2006–02–24
  4. By: Mele, Domenec (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: Mary Parker Follett never wrote on ethics in management nor on business ethics, both of which are now familiar. However, some implicit and even explicit references to these topics can be found in her thought. What is more, underlying her whole approach to business and management are concepts that have a lot to do with ethics. Follett holds that the manager must accept standards established by professional managerial associations. Additionally, she is aware of the contribution of business management to individual development and to the welfare and culture of society. She also presents a seminal approach to stakeholder theory. Her concept of ethics is related to her dynamic vision of the individual and society. It overcomes subjectivism and the narrow view of an individualistic ethics, but it is not an ethics rooted in ethical principles or in human virtues.
    Keywords: Management; History; Business ethics; Social sciences; Stakeholder theory;
    Date: 2006–03–15
  5. By: Nicola Genovese (University of Messina); Maria Grazia La Spada (University of Messina)
    Abstract: The problems about diversity concern various themes. We will show that the economic theory can contribute by itself to the debate in progress. It could seem paradoxical, but what is called the “dismal science” can serve to attenuate some pessimistic attitudes, putting in prominence a perspective for humanity which is desired. To introduce such contribution, we have examined some essential characteristics of neoclassic theory, regarding the typical features of the individual which it assumes and the principle of “rationality”. Our analysis emphasizes the importance of the economy of market which prevails on other economic systems and makes possible the realization of a “culturally sustainable development”. It also examines the economic benefits of diversity both on the function production and the possibility to have a dynamic demand of goods. The difference between integration and homogenization will be treated and also the importance of international commerce and direct investments.
    Keywords: Neoclassical Theory and Diversity, Productive Benefits of Ethnic Diversity, Cultural Pluralism
    JEL: D2 O3 O31
    Date: 2006–04
  6. By: Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini
    Date: 2006–04–20

This nep-hpe issue is ©2006 by Erik Thomson. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.