nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2007‒01‒23
fourteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. Questions sur la nature de la monnaie : Charles Rist et Bertrand Nogaro, 1904-1951 By Jérôme Blanc
  2. Some observations about the endogenous money theory By Bertocco Giancarlo
  3. Are banks special? A note on Tobin’s theory of financial intermediaries. By Bertocco Giancarlo
  4. The Postwar West German Economic Transition: From Ordoliberalism to Keynesianism By Johannes R. B. Rittershausen
  5. Finance and Development: is Schumpeter’s Analysis still relevant? By Bertocco Giancarlo
  6. The inventor's role: was Schumpeter right? By Braunerhjelm, Pontus; Svensson, Roger
  7. Altruism and Selfish Behavior. The Docility Model Revisited By Secchi Davide
  8. Evolutionary Economics and Moral Relativism - Some Thoughts By Binder, Martin
  9. Charles Darwin meets Amoeba economicus: Why Natural Selection Cannot Explain Rationality. By E. Khalil
  10. Docility and “through doing” morality: An alternative approach to ethics By Magnani Lorenzo; Bardone Emanuele; Secchi Davide
  11. Rationality, Rule-Following and Emotions: On the Economics of Moral Preferences By V. Vanberg
  12. Bayesian Decision Theory and the Representation of Beliefs By Edi Karni
  13. Rationality of Belief Or: Why Savage's axioms are neither necessary nor sufficient for rationality, Second Version By Itzhak Gilboa; Andrew Postlewaite; David Schmeidler
  14. Mortality and Immortality By Rablen, Matthew D.; Oswald, Andrew J.

  1. By: Jérôme Blanc (LEFI - Laboratoire d'économie de la firme et des institutions - [Université Lumière - Lyon II])
    Abstract: Ce texte interroge deux économistes français de la première moitié du XXe siècle, Bertrand Nogaro (1880-1950) et Charles Rist (1873-1956), sur la nature de la monnaie. Ce demi-siècle est marqué par une “ révolution nominaliste ” dont Keynes n'est que l'un des promoteurs. Certains textes de Nogaro et de Rist peuvent être lus comme représentatifs de la lutte qui se livre alors entre nominalisme et métallisme. Si leurs écrits monétaires s'échelonnent de 1904 à 1951, leur réflexion prend leur pleine puissance dans les années vingt et trente. Il s'agit ici de discuter de quel nominalisme Bertrand Nogaro se fait l'avocat et sur quel métallisme Charles Rist fonde son analyse monétaire, en mettant tous deux au regard l'un de l'autre. Nogaro développe une vision nominaliste dès 1908, tandis que Rist, en dépit d'un changement en 1945, demeure sur une position métalliste de plus en plus intenable théoriquement, bien que séduisante au plan normatif. Nogaro demeure, de son côté, peu disert quant aux solutions à apporter à la question de la stabilité nécessaire du pouvoir d'achat de la monnaie. Lorsqu'il publie ses thèses sous forme d'ouvrage, le nominalisme triomphe déjà.
    Keywords: Histoire de la pensée économique;nature de la monnaie;Rist;Nogaro;nominalisme;métallisme
    Date: 2007–01–03
  2. By: Bertocco Giancarlo (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: The endogenous money theory constitutes the core element of the post-keynesian monetary theory. The first formulation of this theory can be found in the works of Kaldor published in the 1970s. Taking these studies as a starting point, the post-keynesians elaborated two versions of the endogenous money theory which differ in their assumptions about the behaviour of the monetary authorities and the banking system, and hence offer different conclusions about the slope of the money supply curve. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the importance of the endogenous money theory using a criterion which can be defined on the basis of Keynes’s distinction between a real exchange economy and a monetary economy. As is well known, Keynes (1933a, 1933b) uses the former term to refer to an economy in which money is merely a tool to reduce the cost of exchange and whose presence does not alter the structure of the economic system, which remains substantially a barter economy. A monetary economy instead refers to an economic system in which the presence of fiat money radically changes the nature of exchange and the characteristics of the production process. Keynes (1933a, p. 410) notes that the classical economists formulated an explanation of how the real-exchange economy works, convinced that this explanation could be easily applied to a monetary economy. He believed that this conviction was unfounded and stressed the need to elaborate a ‘monetary theory of production, to supplement the real–exchange theories which we already possess’ (Keynes, 1933a, p. 411). The specification of the elements determining the non-neutrality of money is thus the key factor differentiating Keynes’s theory from the classical one.1 The criterion used to evaluate the significance of the endogenous money theory is whether it enables us to elaborate on and to broaden the explanation of the justification the nonneutrality of money formulated by Keynes. In The General Theory the reasons for the non-neutrality of money are grounded in the store of wealth function of money; the liquidity preference theory is the element on which the keynesian explanation of income fluctuation is based. The importance of the money endogeneity theory can therefore be assessed in relation to its ability to specify determinant factors for the non-neutrality of money that have not been highlighted by the liquidity preference theory; in other words, the significance of the endogenous money theory depends on its capacity to bring out elements of a monetary economy that have been overlooked in the liquidity preference theory. This paper presents the following results. First of all, it shows that the endogenous money theory makes it possible to extend the analysis of the factors accounting for the non-neutrality of money beyond what Keynes has done in The General Theory; in particular this paper argues that the theory of money endogeneity obtains this result by underlying the means of payment function of money. Second, the work shows that the money endogeneity theory gives credence to certain points developed by Keynes in some works published in 1933 and between 1937 and 1939. Third, the work emphasises that the novel aspects of the money endogeneity theory do not depend on the particular version of this theory, i.e. they do not depend on the slope of the credit supply curve. Finally, in the paper the most significant aspects of the money endogeneity theory are presented by means of a theoretical model that distinguishes clearly between the credit market and the money market. It is shown that an important element of the money endogeneity theory is that it elaborates an alternative credit theory to the neoclassical one. The paper is divided into three parts. In the first one, the most relevant aspects of the money endogeneity theory are presented starting from Kaldor’s work, and we bring out the consistency between that theory and the considerations formulated by Keynes in some writings which preceded and followed the publication of The General Theory. In the second part the two versions of the money endogeneity theory are analysed and it is noted that the debate between the supporters of these two versions risks overshadowing the innovative aspects of the money endogeneity theory that do not depend on the slope of the credit and money supply curves. Then in the third part, the aspects that distinguish a monetary economy from a real-exchange economy and that emerge because of the money endogeneity theory are described.
    Date: 2006–02
  3. By: Bertocco Giancarlo (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: Since the 1960s Tobin has set himself the objective of developing a macroeconomic model more general than that specified by Keynes in The General Theory. Keynes had assumed that all the assets different from money were perfect substitutes; this hypothesis allowed him to explain only one interest rate. On the contrary, Tobin abandons the perfect substitutability hypothesis and elaborates a theoretical model which envisages more than two assets and explicitly deals with financial intermediaries. Moreover Tobin asks himself whether banks play a special role compared with the other intermediaries and elaborates a ‘new view’ which, in contrast with the ‘old view’, maintains that there are no reasons to attribute a special role to the banks. This paper critically analyses Tobin’s theory and presents two results. First, it shows that Tobin’s theory overlooks an important function of banks; a function highlighted by Keynes in some writings which preceded and followed the publications of The General Theory. Second, this work shows that Tobin’s thesis that the specificity of banks does not exist can be confirmed, albeit on different grounds, also taking into account the function of banks that he overlooks. The paper is divided into four parts: in the first one, the most important aspects of the Tobin’s ‘new view’ are described. The limitations of these theoretical approaches are then showed in the second section; in the last two sections the elements of an alternative theory are outlined.y.
    Date: 2006–07
  4. By: Johannes R. B. Rittershausen
    Abstract: The Federal Republic of Germany has experienced a fundamental shift in economic philosophy from Ordoliberalism to Keynesianism. This paper elucidates the main tenets of both schools of thought and their eventual influences on economic policy from 1945 through the late 1960s. West Germany’s transition to Keynesianism follows a relatively cohesive narrative, as the complexities of event history resonate to similar effect in academic and political spheres. By the end of this investigation, intellectual quagmires surrounding economic successes of the postwar period appear as the logical consequences of an academic community that underestimates the importance of normative economic philosophy for policy implementation and society writ large. Reconnecting historical narrative with economic philosophy thus serves in a dual capacity, clarifying a particularly controversial period in economic historiography while also illuminating the underlying problems of our present circumstance.
    Keywords: Economic History, Ordoliberalism, Keynesianism, German Economic Reform
    JEL: B00 B30 B40
    Date: 2007–01
  5. By: Bertocco Giancarlo (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: In recent years numerous studies have been published highlighting the role of financial structures in the development process of contemporary economies.1 These works represent a break with a widely-held theoretical view holding that income, wealth and economic growth are independent of the monetary and financial variables, and which thus considers money and the financial structure as neutral variables.2 In these recent studies there is always a reference to the pioneering work of Schumpeter; in many cases it is just a superficial mention, in other ones and in particular in the writings of Rajan and Zingales (2003a, 2003b, 2003c), important elements of Schumpeter’s theoretical framework are used. Hence, these works afford us an interesting opportunity to re-evaluate the importance of Schumpeter’s contribution.3 The thesis put forward in this paper is that while they do indeed highlight important elements of Schumpeter’s theory, Rajan and Zingales do not take the implications thereof into account and, furthermore, they neglect certain fundamental aspects of the Schumpeterian analysis that are closely connected with the parts that they consider. This renders their work incomplete, and prevents their analysis from achieving the coherence of Schumpeter’s theory. This paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, the most important points of the analysis of Rajan and Zingales are described; in the second part, the elements of Schumpeter’s theory that they overlook are pointed out, and it is shown that by using the Schumpeterian theoretical framework it is possible to analyse the relation between financial structure and economic system growth in a more coherent and in-depth way than the one used by Rajan and Zingales.
  6. By: Braunerhjelm, Pontus (CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology); Svensson, Roger (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)
    Abstract: According to Schumpeter, the creative process of economic development can be divided into three distinguishable stages of invention, innovation (commercialization) and imitation. We show why there is a rationale for the Schumpeterian entrepreneur to also include the inventor in the innovation process. In addition, we provide a framework where the theories of Knight’s risk defining entrepreneur and Schumpeter’s innovative entrepreneur can be bridged. Merging the two enhances the possibilities of successful commercialization since the inventor may further adapt the innovation to customer needs, transmit information and reduce uncertainty. This serves to expand the market opportunities for the entrepreneur. The empirical analysis is based on a survey covering Swedish patents granted to individuals and small firms, with a response rate of 80 %. The results show improved commercialization performance when the patent is licensed or sold to an entrepreneur, or if the inventor is employed in an entrepreneurial firm, as compared to commercialization in the inventor’s own firm. Another important result is that, irrespective of commercialization mode, an active involvement of the inventor is shown to have a positive impact on performance.
    Keywords: Entrepreneur; inventor; innovations; commercialization
    JEL: M13 O31 O32
    Date: 2007–01–17
  7. By: Secchi Davide (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: Herbert A. Simon is widely known for his studies on rationality, artificial intelligence and for his pioneering approach to organizational studies. In one of his latest works, he presented a theory of human interaction, focused on the conflict between the selfish and the altruistic that can be seen as the essence of human relationships. The model is quite ambiguous: (1) it follows a kind of social Darwinism that (2) postulates selfish individuals’ extinction. Taking up Simon’s hypotheses on altruism, docility, and selfish behavior, we develop an alternative model of human interaction. The main objective of the paper is to show that rejecting neo-Darwinism and assuming slight complications in the model can explain more in terms of social system interactions. We assume that docility and then altruism, in a technical sense, is the basis of social interaction as it shapes the whole system. It is worth noting that, in the model, selfish individuals do not disappear.
    Keywords: docility, altruism, social system, bounded rationality, social interactions, social Darwinism
    Date: 2005–09
  8. By: Binder, Martin
    Abstract: Doubts about the decidability of moral questions have often been used as an excuse for economists to eschew any normative propositions. Evolutionary economics, still lacking a well-developed normative branch, gives rise to a form of descriptive moral relativism. This paper wants to explore the consequences of adopting a form of meta-ethical and normative moral relativism as well. It develops a normative position called ‘naturalistic relativism’, which is a naturalistically reconstructed neo-pragmatist form of relativism. The paper also gives an argument why this position seems to be the adequate normative correlate for evolutionary economics.
    Keywords: evolutionary economics; moral relativism; sensory utilitarianism; continuity hypothesis; naturalistic relativism
    JEL: Z00 B52 B41
    Date: 2006–08–22
  9. By: E. Khalil
    Abstract: Advocates of natural selection usually regard rationality as redundant, i.e., as a mere linguistic device to describe natural selection. But this “Redundancy Thesis” faces the anomaly that rationality differs from natural selection. One solution is to conceive rationality as a trait selected by the neo-Darwinian mechanism of natural selection as . But this “Rationality-qua-Trait Thesis” faces a problem as well: Following neo-Darwinism, one cannot classify one allele of, e.g., eyesight as better than another without reference to constraints—while one can classify rationality as better than irrationality irrespective of constraints. Therefore, natural selection cannot be a trait. This leads us to the only solution: Rationality is actually a method that cannot be reduced to a trait. This “Rationality-qua-Method Thesis” lays the ground for alternative, developmental views of evolution.
    Keywords: Redundancy Thesis, rationality anomaly, Rationality-qua-Trait Thesis, incoherence problem, Rationality-qua-Method Length 31 pages
    JEL: D0
    Date: 2007–01
  10. By: Magnani Lorenzo (Department of Philosophy, Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Italy); Bardone Emanuele (Department of Philosophy, Computational Philosophy Laboratory, University of Pavia, Italy); Secchi Davide (Department of Economics, University of Insubria, Italy)
    Abstract: In this paper, we aim at presenting the distributed morality approach as it can be described by the docility model of social interactions. The proposition “morality is a matter of social interaction” constitutes our starting point. We aim at pointing out the ways through which individuals create moral alternatives to a given situation. The paper is dedicated to presenting morality as something connected to human cognition. We introduce a “manipulative” way of thinking about morality, and we argue that it is “distributed” through things, animals, computers, and other human beings (section I); furthermore, the idea of a type of “through doing” morality comes up. Then, we find that this model supports an alternative view of the socio-economic system and, therefore, we suggest that the docility model (section II, as amended from Simon’s original model 1990; 1993), fits the case. The field of business ethics exempts useful insights from research on this issue. Recent studies on moral thinking and moral imagination seem to support this research project.
    Keywords: cognition, distributed morality, docility, social interactions, socioeconomic system
    Date: 2006–07
  11. By: V. Vanberg
    Abstract: The long-standing critique of the ‘economic model of man’ has gained new impetus not least due to the broadening research in behavioral and experimental economics. Many of the critics have focused on the apparent difficulty of traditional rational choice theory to account for the role of moral or ethical concerns in human conduct, and a number of authors have suggested modifications in the standard model in response to such critique. This paper takes issue with a quite commonly adopted ‘revisionist’ strategy, namely seeking to account for moral concerns by including them as additional preferences in an agent’s utility function. It is argued that this strategy ignores the critical difference between preferences over outcomes and preferences over actions, and that it fails to recognize that ‘moral preferences’ belong into the second category. Preferences over actions, however, cannot be consistently accounted for within a theoretical framework that focuses on the rationality of single actions. They require a shift of perspective, from a theory of rational choice to a theory of rule-following behavior. Length 30 pages
    Date: 2007–01
  12. By: Edi Karni
    Abstract: In this paper, I present a Bayesian decision theory and define choice-based subjective probabilities that faithfully represent Bayesian decision makers’ prior and posterior beliefs regarding the likelihood of the possible effects contingent on his actions. I argue that no equivalent results can be obtained in Savage’s (1954) subjective expected utility theory and give an example illustrating the potential harm caused by ascribing to a decision maker subjective probabilities that do not represent his beliefs.
    Date: 2007–01
  13. By: Itzhak Gilboa (Tel-Aviv University, HEC, and Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Andrew Postlewaite (University of Pennsylvania); David Schmeidler (Tel-Aviv University and Ohio State University)
    Abstract: Economic theory reduces the concept of rationality to internal consistency. The practice of economics, however, distinguishes between rational and irrational beliefs. There is therefore an interest in a theory of rational beliefs, and of the process by which beliefs are generated and justified. We argue that the Bayesian approach is unsatisfactory for this purpose, for several reasons. First, the Bayesian approach begins with a prior, and models only a very limited form of learning, namely, Bayesian updating. Thus, it is inherently incapable of describing the formation of prior beliefs. Second, there are many situations in which there is not sufficient information for an individual to generate a Bayesian prior. It follows that the Bayesian approach is neither sufficient not necessary for the rationality of beliefs.
    Keywords: Decision making, Bayesian, Behavioral Economics
    JEL: B4 D8
    Date: 2004–03–01
  14. By: Rablen, Matthew D.; Oswald, Andrew J. (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: It has been known for centuries that the rich and famous have longer lives than the poor and ordinary. Causality, however, remains trenchantly debated. The ideal experiment would be one in which status and money could somehow be dropped upon a sub-sample of individuals while those in a control group received neither. This paper attempts to formulate a test in that spirit. It collects 19th-century birth data on science Nobel Prize winners and nominees. Using a variety of corrections for potential biases, the paper concludes that winning the Nobel Prize, rather than merely being nominated, is associated with between 1 and 2 years of extra longevity. Greater wealth, as measured by the real value of the Prize, does not seem to affect lifespan.
    Keywords: Longevity ; status ; health ; wealth ; mortality
    JEL: I12
    Date: 2007

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