
on History and Philosophy of Economics 
By:  Bruno S. Frey; Katja Rost 
Abstract:  Publication and citation rankings have become major indicators of the scientific worth of universities and countries, and determine to a large extent the career of individual scholars. We argue that such rankings do not effectively measure research quality, which should be the essence of evaluation. For that reason, an alternative ranking is developed as a quality indicator, based on membership on academic editorial boards of professional journals. It turns out that especially the ranking of individual scholars is far from objective. The results differ markedly, depending on whether research quantity or research quality is considered. Even quantity rankings are not objective; two citation rankings, based on different samples, produce entirely different results. It follows that any career decisions based on rankings are dominated by chance and do not reflect research quality. Instead of propagating a ranking based on board membership as the gold standard, we suggest that committees make use of this quality indicator to find members who, in turn, evaluate the research quality of individual scholars. 
Keywords:  Rankings, Universities, Scholars, Publications, Citations 
JEL:  H43 L15 O38 
Date:  2008–10 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:zur:iewwpx:390&r=hpe 
By:  Smith, Peter 
Abstract:  Fuzzy logic and genetic algorithms are used to rework more realistic (and more complex) models of competitive markets. The resulting equilibria are significantly different from the ones predicted from the usual static analysis; the methodology solves the Walrasian problem of how markets can reach equilibrium, starting with firms trading at disparate prices. The modified equilibria found in these complex market models involve some mutual selfrestraint on the part of the agents involved, relative to economically rational behaviour. Research (using similar techniques) into the evolution of collaborative behaviours in economics, and of altruism generally, is summarized; and the joint significance of these two bodies of work for public policy is reviewed. The possible extension of the fuzzy/ genetic methodology to other technical aspects of economics (including international trade theory, and development) is also discussed, as are the limitations to the usefulness of any type of theory in political domains. For the latter purpose, a more differentiated concept of rationality, appropriate to illstructured choices, is developed. The philosophical case for laissezfaire policies is considered briefly; and the prospects for change in the way we ‘do economics’ are analysed. 
Keywords:  Fuzzy logic; genetic algorithms; complexity; emergence; rationality; illstructured choice; equilibrium; Walrasian Crier; paradigm change; 
JEL:  B0 C61 B41 
Date:  2008–10–02 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:pra:mprapa:10899&r=hpe 
By:  Xavier De Scheemaekere (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.); Ariane Szafarz (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels and DULBEA, Université Libre de Bruxelles) 
Abstract:  This paper sheds a new light on the gap between a priori and a posteriori probabilities by concentrating on the evolution of the mathematical concept. It identifies the illegitimate use of Bernoulli’s law of large numbers as the probabilists’ original sin. The resulting confusion on the mathematical foundation for statistical inference was detrimental to Laplace’s definition of probability in terms of equipossible outcomes as well as to von Mises’ frequentist approach. On the opposite, Kolmogorov’s analytical axiomatization of probability theory enables a priori and a posteriori probabilities to relate to each other without contradiction, allowing a consistent mathematical specification of the dual nature of probability. Therefore, only in Kolmorogorov’s formalism is statistical inference rigorously framed. 
Keywords:  Probability, Bernoulli’s Theorem, Mathematics, Statistics. 
JEL:  N01 B31 C65 
Date:  2008–10 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:sol:wpaper:08029&r=hpe 
By:  Kevin Marechal (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels and CEESE, Université Libre de Bruxelles.); Hélène AubaretJoachain (Institut pour un Développement durable, Ottignies, Belgique); JeanPaul Ledant (Institut pour un Développement durable, Ottignies, Belgique) 
Abstract:  Putting agricultural systems on a more sustainable path is a crucial policy issue. Within that context, the objective of this paper is to show how the unsustainable character of current agricultural systems is strongly related to the prevailing rationale of mainstream economics and the CartesianNewtonian worldview on which it is founded. Using the example of the transformation of postwar agriculture in France, our analysis underlines the profound influence of the logic of mainstream economics on the modernisation of agricultural systems. The resulting transformation of agricultural systems based on the triptych specialisationintensificationconcentration is then further explored regarding its negative impacts in terms of sustainability. Particular attention is dedicated to environmental impacts, given their magnitude and the fact that mainstream economics, because of its “mechanistic reductionist” framework, has intrinsic difficulties in dealing with them. Since the fundamental assumptions of mainstream economics are being strongly challenged, it becomes legitimate to resort to an alternative economic framework for designing appropriate policies and measures. Given that many empirical studies demonstrates that agricultural systems may be lockedin to some extent, the choice an evolutionary line of thought in an ecological perspective is quite straightforward. This approach of economic change both underlines its historicallycontingent nature and the role played by systemic interdependencies. Through underlining the pathdependence of agricultural systems, the use of the evolutionary framework in an ecological perspective allows us to shed a new light on their transformation by suggesting some strategies (i.e. niche accumulation and hybridisation) that have proven efficient in overcoming cases of lockin in other fields. 
Keywords:  Agricultural systems; Mechanistic reductionism; Evolutionary economics; Pathdependence and lockin; Environmental pressures 
Date:  2008–10 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:sol:wpaper:08028&r=hpe 
By:  Srihari Govindan; Robert Wilson 
Date:  2008–10–05 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:cla:levarc:122247000000002381&r=hpe 
By:  Charles F. Manski 
Abstract:  This paper concerns the prescriptive function of decision analysis. I suppose that an agent must choose an action yielding welfare that varies with the state of nature. The agent has a welfare function and beliefs, but he does not know the actual state of nature. It is often argued that such an agent should adhere to consistency axioms which imply that behavior can be represented as maximization of expected utility. However, our agent is not concerned the consistency of his behavior across hypothetical choice sets. He only wants to make a reasonable choice from the choice set that he actually faces. Hence, I reason that prescriptions for decision making should respect actuality. That is, they should promote welfare maximization in the choice problem the agent actually faces. I conclude that any decision rule respecting weak and stochastic dominance should be considered rational. Expected utility maximization respects dominance, but it has no special status from the actualist perspective. Moreover, the basic consistency axiom of transitivity has a clear normative foundation only when actions are ordered by dominance. 
JEL:  D81 
Date:  2008–10 
URL:  http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14396&r=hpe 