nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2008‒08‒21
four papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. Two Concepts of Liberty: An Analysis of Berlin's Seminal Essay By Alphin Jr., Henry C.
  2. Rethinking the Role of History in Law & Economics: The Case of the Federal Radio Commission in 1927 By David A. Moss; Jonathan B. Lackow
  3. Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation By Guido M. Imbens; Jeffrey M. Wooldridge
  4. On the political economy of environmental survival versus collapse. Clarifying the work done by Tinbergen & Hueting vis-à-vis Weitzman, Nordhaus and Stern By Colignatus, Thomas

  1. By: Alphin Jr., Henry C.
    Abstract: Sir Isaiah Berlin, in his 1958 essay and inaugural lecture, "Two Concepts of Liberty," expands on the ideals of liberty that were synthesized and inculcated by earlier political philosophers. The essay initiates and details an outline of an idealized liberty with two distinct branches: positive and negative. Although the essay is a bit controversial, producing such detractors as Charles Taylor, this seminal piece has staying power and can only be enhanced, not nullified.
    Keywords: philosophy;economics;berlin;isaiah;liberty;political
    JEL: A13 A12 A14
    Date: 2008–02–06
  2. By: David A. Moss (Harvard Business School, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit); Jonathan B. Lackow (Ropes & Gray LLP)
    Abstract: In the study of law and economics, there is a danger that historical inferences from theory may infect historical tests of theory. It is imperative, therefore, that historical tests always involve a vigorous search not only for confirming evidence, but for disconfirming evidence as well. We undertake such a search in the context of a single well-known case: the Federal Radio Commission's (FRC's) 1927 decision not to expand the broadcast radio band. The standard account of this decision holds that incumbent broadcasters opposed expansion (to avoid increased competition) and succeeded in capturing the FRC. Although successful broadcaster opposition may be taken as confirming evidence for this interpretation, our review of the record reveals even stronger disconfirming evidence. In particular, we find that every major interest group, not just radio broadcasters, publicly opposed expansion of the band in 1927, and that broadcasters themselves were divided at the FRC's hearings.
    Date: 2008–07
  3. By: Guido M. Imbens; Jeffrey M. Wooldridge
    Abstract: Many empirical questions in economics and other social sciences depend on causal effects of programs or policiy interventions. In the last two decades much research has been done on the econometric and statistical analysis of the effects of such programs or treatments. This recent theoretical literature has built on, and combined features of, earlier work in both the statistics and econometrics literatures. It has by now reached a level of maturity that makes it an important tool in many areas of empirical research in economics, including labor economics, public finance, development economics, industrial organization and other areas of empirical micro-economics. In this review we discuss some of the recent developments. We focus primarily on practical issues for empirical researchers, as well as provide a historical overview of the area and give references to more technical research.
    JEL: C01
    Date: 2008–08
  4. By: Colignatus, Thomas
    Abstract: The Stern Review (2006) on the economics of climate change presented a cost estimate of perhaps even 20% of national income and subsequently was criticized by Weitzman and Nordhaus and others in a discussion that centered on the use of the calculus of variations and the choice of the proper rate of discount. The Tinbergen & Hueting (1991) approach deals with the wider environmental collapse, is not formulated in the form of the calculus of variations, and arrives at a sustainable level of national income of about 50% of national income. The Tinbergen & Hueting (TH) approach appears to be neglected by Weitzman, Nordhaus and Stern (WNS) but appears to be better grounded in economic theory, mathematically richer and empirically more relevant. This paper clarifies the misunderstandings and omissions in the work by WNS on environmental economics.
    Keywords: Social welfare; national income; sustainable national income; economic growth; sustainable economic growth; sustainability; environment
    JEL: E01 Q01 A11
    Date: 2008–08–13

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