nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2008‒01‒05
twelve papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. Function, mind and novelty: organismic concepts and Richard M. Goodwin formation at Harvard, 1932-1934. Insights from his papers at Siena University By Mauro Caminati
  2. János Kornai’s Contributions to Economic Analysis By Lindbeck, Assar
  3. The weight of argument and non-additive measures: a note By Marcello Basili; Carlo Zappia
  4. Coordination in the History of Economics By Klein, Daniel B.; Orsborn, Aaron
  5. Peut-on mettre en évidence des lois en économie ? Un éclairage régulationniste By Robert Boyer
  6. Role of Islamic banks in economic development By saleem, shahid
  7. Classifying and Citing Schumpeter’s Works. From the Perspective of English Availability By Esben Sloth Andersen
  8. Current Global Imbalances: Might Keynes Be of Help? By Anna Maria Carabelli; Mario Aldo Cedrini
  9. La genèse des politiques de l'emploi en France : un référentiel d'adaptation. By Fabrice Colomb
  10. Self-Reputation and Perception of Reputation By Jung Hun Cho
  11. The Set-point Theory of Well-being Needs Replacing : On the Brink of a Scientific Revolution? By Bruce Headey
  12. Utility-Based Utility By David Cass

  1. By: Mauro Caminati
    Abstract: This paper is concerned with the threads connecting Richard Goodwin's early formation as an Harvard undergraduate student in political science and philosophy, with his life-long concern with the modes in which novelty and innovation enters into social systems and modifies their working. We shall consider the evidence, based on Goodwin’s papers at Siena University, suggesting that Goodwin's interest in the causes and effects of novelty generation in social systems pre-dates the much emphasized acquaintance with Schumpeter, and even the decision to direct his post-graduate formation towards economics. This interest has strong roots in his outspoken involvement with the Marxist political movement in the years 1932-1934, which made him particularly concerned with the relation between the objective historical inheritance and the freedom for innovation and social change embedded in human creativity. Goodwin’s formation on such matters was strongly influenced by the cultural seeds he could harvest, directly or indirectly, through the Harvard scientific and philosophical community and most notably as a result of the intellectual fascination for the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
    Keywords: organized system, function, mind, novelty, A. N. Whitehead.
    JEL: B31
    Date: 2007–07
  2. By: Lindbeck, Assar (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: The publication of János Kornai’s memoirs, By Force of Thought, provides an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of Kornai’s great contributions to economic research. This paper discusses both his basic research strategy and some of his main research results. Kornai has usually dealt with great, system-oriented issues, and he has been more inspired by real-world observations than by scholarly work by others. The paper also emphasizes that Kornai’s two most celebrated characterizations of real world socialist economies – "shortage economies" and production units with "soft budget constraints" – are analytically closely connected. Kornai also, in his more recent works, regards the centralized political system during communism as the basic explanation for the centralized nature of the economic system in these countries.
    Keywords: Socialism; Soft Budget Constraints; Shortage Economy; Economic Centralization
    JEL: B24 B31 L10 P20
    Date: 2007–12–03
  3. By: Marcello Basili; Carlo Zappia
    Abstract: This note argues that a representation of the epistemic state of the individual through a non-additive measure provides a novel account of Keynes’s view of probability theory proposed in his Treatise on Probability. The paper shows, first, that Keynes’s “non-numerical probabilities” can be interpreted in terms of decisional weights and distorsions of the probability priors. Second, that the degree of non-additivity of the probability measure can account for the confidence in the assessment without any reference to a second order probability. And, third, that the criterion for decision making under uncertainty derived in the non-additive literature incorporates a measure of the degree of confidence in the probability assessment. The paper emphasises the Keynesian derivation of Ellsberg’s analysis: the parallel between Keynes and Ellsberg is deemed to be significant since Ellsberg’s insights represent the main starting point of the modern developments of decision theory under uncertainty and ambiguity.
    Keywords: uncertainty, probabilities, Keynes.
    JEL: B16 D21
    Date: 2007–06
  4. By: Klein, Daniel B. (George Mason University); Orsborn, Aaron (George Mason University)
    Abstract: We tell of the evolving meaning of the term coordination as used by economists. The paper is based on systematic electronic searches (on “coord,” etc.) of major works and leading journals. The term coordination first emerged in professional economics around 1880, to describe the directed productive concatenation of factors or activities within a firm. Also, transportation economists used the term to describe the concatenation of routes and trips of a transportation system. These usages represent what we term concatenate coordination. The next major development came in the 1930s from several LSE economists (Hayek, Plant, Hutt, and Coase), who extended that concept beyond the eye of any actual coordinator. That is, they wrote of the concatenate coordination of a system of polycentric or spontaneous activities. These various applications of concatenate coordination prevailed until the next major development, namely, Thomas Schelling and game models. Here coordination referred to a mutual meshing of actions. Game theorists developed crisp ideas of coordination games (like “battle of the sexes”), coordination equilibria, convention, and path dependence. This “coordination” was not a refashioning, but rather a distinct concept, one we distinguish as mutual coordination. As game models became more familiar to economists, it was mutual coordination that economists increasingly had in mind when they spoke of “coordination.” Economists switched, so to speak, to a new semantic equilibrium. Now, mutual coordination overshadows the older notion of concatenate coordination, although “Austrian” economists have sustained discussion of concatenate coordination (with unfortunate confusion, we suggest). The two senses of coordination are conceptually distinct and correspond neatly to the two dictionary definitions of the verb to coordinate. Both are crucial to economics. We suggest that distinguishing between the two senses can help to clarify “coordination” talk. Also, compared to talk of “efficiency” and “optimality,” concatenate coordination allows for a richer, more humanistic, and more openly aesthetic discussion of social issues. The narrative is backed up by Excel worksheets that report on systematic content searches of the writings of economics using the worldwide web and, using JSTOR, of Quarterly Journal of Economics, Economic Journal, Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, and Economica.
    Keywords: coordination; concatenation; planning; coordination equilibrium; focal point
    JEL: A10 B00 C70 D20
    Date: 2008–01–03
  5. By: Robert Boyer
    Abstract: Après avoir souligné la diversité des définitions et conceptions des lois en économie, l'article montre comment les progrès même de l'analyse économique ont conduit à relativiser l'existence de telles lois. Il n'a pas été possible de généraliser la théorie de l'équilibre général et le remarquable développement des méthodes économétriques et banques de données, n'a pas permis, jusqu'à présent, de mettre à jour des régularités traversant le temps et l'espace. C'est à cette même conclusion qu'aboutissent les recherches régulationnistes sur les régimes de croissance. D'une part, on peut mettre en évidence une significative diversité des configurations institutionnelles, alors que, d'autre part, le succès d'un régime conduit à sa déstabilisation, donc à la disparition des régularités antérieures. Ainsi, variété des formes du lien social et irréductibilité du temps historique au temps du projet conduisent à relativiser le concept de loi en économie. ###[english abstract: First, here is a large diversity concerning the definitions and conceptions of economic laws. Second, the very progress of modern economic research has challenged the relevance and existence of such economic laws: it has turned impossible to generalize General Equilibrium Theory and the sophistication of econometric techniques and the multiplicity of data banks has not exhibited any empirical regularity across national economies and historical periods. Third, this is precisely one of the major results derived from Régulation approaches of growth regime. On one side, one observes a significant diversity of institutional configurations, on the other side, the very success of a growth regime triggers its destabilization, therefore the erosion of previous regularities. Thus, the variety of social ties and the specificity of historical time do challenge the very concept of law in economics.]###
    Date: 2007
  6. By: saleem, shahid
    Abstract: The purpose of this working paper is to give the real meaning of DEVELOPMENT from Islamic perspective. Most of Muslim countries are LDCs and using the religious and social ideology of Islam is very useful to establish institutions and to bring moral and ethical change for development in these countries. Islam appears to be the only dynamic religion and tells us about prevention of interest, similar to Christian and Jewish theologies. But at the same time gives a comprehensive setoff trade and financing modes, not easily and completely described in any other religion or social order. Even TFP, a modern concept for collective efficiency has been advised in Islam, shunning to self interest and individualism of materialistic economics. Some scholars of WEST consider use of Islamic banking more suitable for economic development, while others consider Islam as obstacle & threat to development of Muslim countries. I hope that the paper will be useful in this regard to provide another valuable theoretical dimension to this field of study………
    Keywords: Islamic; Banking; Comparison; Pakistan; SHAHID; economic; development
    JEL: E2 M2 P4
    Date: 2007–12–25
  7. By: Esben Sloth Andersen
    Abstract: This paper presents a selective and annotated bibliography of Schumpeter’s works together with a system for citing and referencing them. Schumpeter wrote about 12 books and booklets, 200 articles, and 50 reviews in two languages. Since the world of economics is increasingly an Anglophone world, it is a major problem that even important works are still only available in German language and that it is often difficult to detect whether a German work has been translated. The paper presents a dynamic system for handling such problems. The system only includes German works that are still not available in English; and the citation clearly indicates whether a work is in English or German. The system also gives priority to an article’s availability in an easily accessible collection so that the original sources are only included as additional information in the reference. The paper presents a large selection of Schumpeter’s works according to this system. In addition, Schumpeter’s works are classified by subject and by type of publication.
    Keywords: Joseph A. Schumpeter’s work; classification by English availability; classification by subject; classification by type of publication
    JEL: B31
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Anna Maria Carabelli; Mario Aldo Cedrini (SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont)
    Abstract: A large number of interpretations has been proposed for current global imbalances, with a variety of future scenarios for world economy. The perspective here adopted tries to be fully respectful of the assumption of global economic interdependence as well as to cope with the complexity of a political, and not exclusively an economic, problem. By the use of the three alternatives outlined by Keynes in his 1945 memorandum "Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III" for the restart of multilateralism at a global level, we propose to rearrange views about current imbalances according to the unilateral, bilateral or multilateral nature of the adjustment they propose - if any - for their unwinding. Comparisons are made between Keynes's "Starvation Corner" and "gloomy views", together with scenarios suggesting the need of unilateral adjustments. Keynes's "Temptation" is used to analyse views stating that global imbalances are sustainable due either to the working of market mechanisms, related to the strength of the American economy, or to the (tacit) agreement of a "revived Bretton Woods system". The parallel with Keynes's "Justice" leads to consider views highlighting shared responsibilities for the imbalances and prompting for collective actions to reduce them.
    Keywords: Global imbalances, Adjustment dynamics, US economy, John Maynard Keynes
    JEL: F32 F01 B31 F50
    Date: 2007–11
  9. By: Fabrice Colomb (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne)
    Abstract: From a cognitive sociological approach, this paper's objective is to define the political category "politiques de l'emploi" and to explain the process of its social construction. The first part deals with the time of the emergence of the category. The second part analyzes the sense of this construction through political "régulation". Our provisional conclusion is that French employment policies appeared in the mid-sixties and can be defined as policies which legitimize the giving up of the full employment objective.
    Keywords: France, employment policies, history of public policies.
    JEL: J68 I38
    Date: 2007–12
  10. By: Jung Hun Cho
    Abstract: This paper examines how the belief of decision maker regarding his ability to keep a resolution and his belief regarding what others think of him affect his actions. Higher self-reputation increases future payoff but higher perception of reputation can either increase or decrease it for an individual who has a strong ability to keep a resolution. However, both higher self-reputation and higher perception of reputation may not help increase future payoff for a decision maker who has a weak ability to resist temptation if he makes a resolution relatively easily in the second period. These results help to explain why some people ask for help or do not ask for help from friends to keep a resolution and why some people can or cannot sustain the resolution in the short run.
    Keywords: Self-control; self-reputation; time inconsistency.
    JEL: D71 D82 D83
    Date: 2007–11
  11. By: Bruce Headey
    Abstract: Set-point theory has dominated the field of subjective well-being (SWB). It has served as a classic Kuhn research paradigm, being extended and refined for thirty years to take in new results. The central plank of the theory is that adult set-points do not change, except just temporarily in the face of major life events. There was always some ‘discordant data’, including evidence that some events are so tragic (e.g. the death of one’s child) that people never recover back to their set-point. It was possible to dismiss these events as ‘exceptions’ and maintain the theory. However, several new findings are now emerging, which it is increasingly difficult to dismiss as ‘exceptions’ and which appear to require substantial revisions or replacement of set-point theory. Many of these findings are based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (SOEP, 1984 - ) which provides clear evidence of large, long term changes in the set-points of substantial minorities of the population. This paper reviews recent findings and highlights lines of theory development which, at minimum, represent substantial revisions to set-point theory and which may perhaps lead to replacement of the paradigm. There is evidence to suggest that individuals with certain personality traits are more likely to record long term change in SWB than others. Also, SWB appears to depend partly on choice/prioritisation of some life goals rather than others. Pursuit of non-zero sum goals (family and altruistic goals) leads to higher SWB than pursuit of zero sum goals (career advancement and material gains). Both these new lines of theory appear promising and the second, in particular, cannot sensibly be reconciled with set-point theory.
    Date: 2007
  12. By: David Cass (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: A major virtue of von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities, for example, in the theory of general financial equilibrium (GFE), is that they ensure time consistency: consumption-portfolio plans (for the future) are in fact executed (in the future) — assuming that there is perfect foresight about relevant endogenous variables. This paper proposes an alternative to expected utility, one which also delivers consistency between plan and execution — and more. In particular, the formulation affords an extremely natural setting for introducing extrinsic uncertainty. The key idea is to divorce the concept of filtration (of the state space) from any considerations involving probability, and then concentrate attention on nested utilities of consumption looking forward from any date-event: utility today depends only on consumption today and prospective utility of consumption tomorrow, utility tomorrow depends only on consumption tomorrow and prospective utility of consumption the day after tomorrow, and so on.
    Keywords: Utility theory, Expected utility, Time consistency, Extrinsic uncertainty, Cass-Shell Immunity Theorem
    JEL: D61 D81 D91
    Date: 2007–12–15

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