nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2008‒07‒30
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. The Variable Time: crucial to understanding Knowledge Economics By Khumalo, Bhekuzulu
  2. Non-Bayesian decision theory ante-litteram: the case of G. L. S. Shackle By Carlo Zappia
  3. The ‘Pre-Eminence of Theory’ versus the ‘General-to-Specific’ Cointegrated VAR Perspectives in Macro-Econometric Modeling By Spanos, Aris
  4. Do we need time series econometrics? (Revised) By Rao, B. Bhaskara; Singh, Rup; Kumar, Saten
  5. Learning from physics education research: Lessons for economics education By Simkins, Scott P.; Maier, Mark H.
  6. Rationalization and Cognitive Dissonance: Do Choices Affect or Reflect Preferences? By M. Keith Chen
  7. 'CHOOSER DEPENDANT' PREFERENCES, AND ATTITUDES de se By Vittorioemanuele Ferrante
  8. Epistemic Conditions and Social Preferences in Trust Games By Gillies, Anthony S; Rigdon, Mary L
  9. Sequential Cheap Talk from Advisors with Reputation By Junghun Cho

  1. By: Khumalo, Bhekuzulu
    Abstract: Though time is a concept mostly associated with physics and philosophy, the concept of time is important to be understood in the discipline of economics. This paper attempts to highlight the importance of time in economics, particularly in knowledge economics, the discipline of economics that looks into the primary commodity, knowledge. The paper attempts to take into account the non linear time concepts that have been very important since Einstein published his papers back in 1905. Without understanding time in a comprehensive manner, it is not possible to have a firm grip on the process of the economic progression of all societies. A theory must hold true in all societies, the characteristics of time must be the same in all societies, as an atom must behave the same in similar laboratory conditions in all societies. This paper will illustrate that without understanding the variable time, it is not possible to fully comprehend knowledge economics.
    Keywords: knowledge economics; knowl; time dilation; relativity; time reversal; progression; marginal gain in knowledge; average gain in knowledge;
    JEL: O10 A20 B00 C60 O30 A12 C02 D80 B41
    Date: 2008–07–19
  2. By: Carlo Zappia
    Abstract: This paper deals with the intellectual environment in which George L. S. Shackle’s theory of decision making was formulated and first discussed. Shackle’s approach had a great impact on decision theory in late 1940s and early 1950s being the single formalised attempt to discard the probability framework in the description of behaviour under uncertainty - a goal shared by Knight and Keynes. Against Shackle, Arrow defended the use of probability theory in decision making, by denying that the Knightian distinction between risk and uncertainty had any behavioural significance, and paving the way to Savage’s Foundations of Statistics as the new mainstream reference. Through an assessment of the reception of Shackle’s theory the paper presents the way a number of theoretical economists, psychologists, and mathematicians were interested in the viability of a formally structured alternative to theories of behaviour using probability statements to describe uncertainty. The paper aim to show that the lively but concentrated discussion on alternative decisional criteria Shackle was part of is crucial to understand the multifarious developments observed in modern decision theory in the last twenty years or so. Indeed, as discussed in a twin paper by Basili and Zappia, Shackle’s theory was a much more viable alternative to subjective expected utility than both its contemporary critics and modern decision theorists have recognised.
    Keywords: Decision theory, uncertainty, Shackle.
    JEL: B16 D81
    Date: 2008–06
  3. By: Spanos, Aris
    Abstract: The primary aim of the paper is to place current methodological discussions on empirical modeling contrasting the ‘theory first’ versus the ‘data first’ perspectives in the context of a broader methodological framework with a view to constructively appraise them. In particular, the paper focuses on Colander’s argument in his paper “Economists, Incentives, Judgement and Empirical Work” relating to the two different perspectives in Europe and the US that are currently dominating empirical macro-econometric modeling and delves deeper into their methodological/philosophical foundations. It is argued that the key to establishing a constructive dialogue between them is provided by a better understanding of the role of data in modern statistical inference, and how that relates to the centuries old issue of the realisticness of economic theories.
    Keywords: Econometric methodology, ‘general-to-specific’, pre-eminence of theory, VAR, statistical adequacy, realisticness of theory, statistical model
    JEL: B4 C1 C3
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Rao, B. Bhaskara; Singh, Rup; Kumar, Saten
    Abstract: It is argued that whether or not there is a need for unit roots and cointegration based econometric methods is a methodological issue. An alternative is the econometrics of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Hendry approach based on the simpler classical methods of estimation. This is known as the general to specific method (GETS). Like all other methodological issues this is also difficult to resolve but we think that GETS is very useful.
    Keywords: GETS; Cointegration; Box-Jenkin’s Equations; Hendry; Granger
    JEL: C51 C13 A19 B41
    Date: 2007–11–19
  5. By: Simkins, Scott P.; Maier, Mark H.
    Abstract: We believe that economists have much to learn from educational research practices and related pedagogical innovations in other disciplines, in particular physics education. In this paper we identify three key features of physics education research that distinguish it from economics education research - (1) the intentional grounding of physics education research in learning science principles, (2) a shared conceptual research framework focused on how students learn physics concepts, and (3) a cumulative process of knowledge-building in the discipline - and describe their influence on new teaching pedagogies, instructional activities, and curricular design in physics education. In addition, we highlight four specific examples of successful pedagogical innovations drawn from physics education - context-rich problems, concept tests, just-in-time teaching, and interactive lecture demonstrations - and illustrate how these practices can be adapted for economic education.
    Keywords: economic education; physics education research (PER); research-based teaching; preconceptions; metacognition; transfer; context-rich problems; peer instruction; just-in-time teaching; interactive lecture demonstration
    JEL: A2
    Date: 2008–06–27
  6. By: M. Keith Chen (Yale University)
    Abstract: Cognitive dissonance is one of the most influential theories in psychology, and its oldest experiential realization is choice-induced dissonance. In contrast to the economic approach of assuming a person's choices reveal their preferences, psychologists have claimed since 1956 that people alter their preferences to rationalize past choices by devaluing rejected alternatives and upgrading chosen ones. Here, I show that every study which has tested this preference-spreading effect has overlooked the potential that choices may reflect individual preferences. Specifically, these studies have implicitly assumed that subject's preferences can be measured perfectly, i.e., with infinite precision. Absent this, their methods, even with control groups, will mistakenly identify cognitive dissonance when there is none. Correctly interpreted, several prominent studies actually reject the presence of choice-induced dissonance. This suggests that mere choice may not always induce rationalization, a reversal that may significantly change the way we think about cognitive dissonance as a whole.
    Keywords: Cognitive dissonance, Revealed preference
    JEL: A12 C91 D01
    Date: 2008–07
  7. By: Vittorioemanuele Ferrante (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche)
    Abstract: Sen’s 'chooser dependence' of preferences generates issues of indexicality which, we claim, can in fact be reduced to a specification of the content of preferences within a standard approach, by means of Lewis’ theory of attitudes de se. While context sensitivity of preferences can be dealt with by the addition to the outcomes of choice of their relevant mereological contexts, indexical sensitivity requires the content of preferences to include (the nature of) the decision maker him/herself. The result is a naturalistic internalization of preferences, which become object of preference, belief, and action. Keywords: Preferences, utility, choice, attitudes, mereology, properties.
    Date: 2008
  8. By: Gillies, Anthony S; Rigdon, Mary L
    Abstract: It is well-known that subjects in bilateral bargaining experiments often exhibit choice behavior suggesting there are strong reciprocators in the population. But it is controversial whether explaining this data requires a social preference model that invokes genuine strong reciprocity or whether some social preference model built on other-regarding preferences as a surrogate can explain it. Since the data precedes theory here, all the social preference models agree on most of it — making direct tests more difficult. We report results from a laboratory experiment using a novel method for testing between the classes of social preference models in the trust game that manipulates the distribution of payoff information in the game. We find evidence supporting the strong reciprocity hypothesis.
    Keywords: social preferences; trust game; reciprocity; strong reciprocators
    JEL: C70 C91
    Date: 2008–07–13
  9. By: Junghun Cho
    Abstract: I examine two-period sequential cheap talk in situations where the decision maker seeks advice from two advisors, each of whom knows the type of the other advisor. By considering the current payoff (which is determined by the message of each advisor) and the future payoff (which is connected with the reputation of each advisor), I examine conditions which guarantee the existence of both good and bad reputation effects. Compared to situations of simultaneous cheap talk, the decision maker loses information more easily if he seeks advice sequentially.
    Keywords: Cheap talk, reputation.
    JEL: D82 D83
    Date: 2008–06

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