nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2006‒09‒03
five papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. La complexité monétaire en France sous l'Ancien régime : étendue et modes de gestion By Jérôme Blanc
  2. Gottes-Bilder und ökonomische Theorie: Naturtheologie und Moralität bei Adam Smith By Walter O. Ötsch
  3. Equilibrio, disequilibrio e tempo in Walras By Franco DONZELLI
  4. Elements of Narrative Analysis By Corvellec, Hervé
  5. Reflections on "The Simple Economics of Basic Research": Looking Back and Looking Forwards By Richard Nelson

  1. By: Jérôme Blanc (LEFI - Laboratoire d'économie de la firme et des institutions - [Université Lumière - Lyon II])
    Abstract: Si l'on additionne sans discernement la variété des instruments monétaires qui circulent sous l'Ancien Régime français, le système monétaire prend les apparences d'un véritable désordre. Or celui-ci a perduré cinq siècles dans un contexte long de développement économique. Il faut donc revenir sur le constat de désordre à la lumière de la structure sociale de l'Ancien Régime. Il apparaît alors un ordre social fort et déterminant, dont la structuration permet à chaque groupe social de faire face à une complexité à la fois réduite et spécifique, que diverses techniques de traitement adaptées permettent d'utiliser au mieux. Le groupe social spécifique des changeurs-banquiers est en outre chargé de gérer l'ensemble de ces instruments monétaires et sert d'interface à tous les autres. La monnaie n'est donc pas la même pour tous car chaque groupe social dispose d'instruments monétaires appropriés dont l'usage est facilité par la possession de techniques spécifiques.
    Keywords: Histoire monétaire, pratiques monétaires, Ancien régime
    Date: 2006–08–25
  2. By: Walter O. Ötsch (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Abstract: Viele neoliberale Kommentaren (zum Begriff vgl. Walpen 2004, S. 62ff.) und die meisten Lehrbücher der Mikroökonomie preisen Adam Smith als den theoretischen Begründer der Marktwirtschaft bzw. des Kapitalismus und stellen ihr eigenes Denken in eine kontinuierliche Tradition mit ihm. Im Gegensatz dazu muss Smith, das ist mein Ausgangspunkt, im Kontext seiner Zeit und ihrer philosophischen und moraltheoretischen Hintergründe betrachtet werden, - sie widersprechen gängigen neoliberalen und neoklassischen Denkmustern. Ein schlagendes Beispiel ist die Naturtheologie bei Smith, sie wird in diesem Paper nicht als vernachlässigbarer Nebenaspekt, sondern als systematisches Element im Denkgebäude von Adam Smith verstanden.
    Date: 2006–08
  3. By: Franco DONZELLI
    Abstract: Equilibrium, disequilibrium and time in Walras’ economics.Walras’ theory of general economic equilibrium undergoes deep changes over the twenty-six years elapsing from the date when Walras’ first significant theoretical contribution is published (1874) and the date when the fourth edition of his fundamental work, the Eléments d’économie politique pure, eventually appears (1900). In this paper we reconstruct the many steps characterizing the twisted evolution of Walras’ thought concerning equilibrium, disequilibrium, and time in economics. Our reconstruction shows how difficult it is for Walras to free his analysis from the constraints initially imposed on it by a pre-analytic vision marked by a strong, almost naïf, descriptive realism, at least as far as the representation of the competitive market mechanism is concerned. As a matter of fact, Walras very early, albeit only confusedly, arrives at perceiving the theoretical, analytical and epistemological difficulties undermining his analysis of the tâtonnement processes associated to his various equilibrium models, but he hesitates to face such issues squarely lest this would force him to give up the allegedly realistic justifications of his theory. As far as the pure exchange model is concerned, Walras, under the pressure of external criticism, soon enough (i.e., since 1885) yields to the requirements of the analysis, by explicitly endorsing the so-called “no-trade-out-of-equilibrium†assumption, as well as the associated interpretation of the tâtonnement process in exchange as a purely virtual equilibration process in “logical†time, supporting an “instantaneous†equilibrium notion. As far as the production models are concerned, on the contrary, Walras strenuously resists giving up the pseudo-realistic assumptions permeating his analysis of the tâtonnement process in production at least up to the third edition of the Eléments (1896): such analysis is essentially based on the idea that the tâtonnement process in production should be interpreted as actual equilibration process in “real†time, supporting a “stationary†equilibrium notion. Yet, due to his late realization of the logical contradictions engendered by his assumptions concerning this sort of tâtonnement process and equilibrium notion, hardly (if at all) compensated by a few dubious gains in terms of descriptive realism, Walras eventually resolves, in the fourth edition of the Eléments, to renounce all pseudo-realistic pretence: in the 1900 edition, in fact, he adopts a novel, openly unrealistic assumption, the so-called “hypothèse des bonsâ€, which turns all tâtonnement processes, including the one concerning production, into virtual processes in “logical†time, supporting a generalized notion of “instantaneous†equilibrium of the “temporary†type.
    Keywords: Walrasian equilibrium, disequilibrium, realism
  4. By: Corvellec, Hervé (Gothenburg Research Institute)
    Abstract: This article is intended to be an introduction to narrative analysis. It introduces key terms in narrative theory (e.g. story and plot), discusses various types of narratives relevant for social studies and features three selected analytical approaches to narratives: a poetic classification, a tripartite way of reading and a deconstructive analysis. The conclusion presents some reflections on narratives as ways to make sense of time. References have been selected as to guide the reader to further studies of narratives and narrative perspectives.
    Keywords: Narrative; Methodology; Merger
    Date: 2006–08–18
  5. By: Richard Nelson
    Abstract: Many of the points argued in this old paper have withstood the tests of time. The economic contribution of basic research is to enable or facilitate downstream invention. The range of inventions that may be facilitated by basic research is unpredictable, but often large. For these reasons, it is desirable that the results of basic research be in the public domain rather than being patented. One major point has turned out not to be fully true. In some cases the results of basic research can be and have been patented. The heart of this essay is an exploration of the problems that have been caused in recent years by the patenting of basic research results, and a consideration of the policy options and appropriate responses.
    Keywords: Basic research, Science, Public Domain, Patenting, Bayh-Dole
    Date: 2006–08–31

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