nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2009‒01‒10
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. One Analogy Can Hide Another: Physics and Biology in Alchian’s “Economic Natural Selection†By Levallois, C.
  2. Why Current Publication May Distort Science By Neal S Young
  3. Experimental Economics: Some Methodological Notes By Fiore, Annamaria
  4. Development of What? An Exposition of the Politics of Development Economics By Arup Maharatna
  5. On the Empirical Relevance of St.Petersburg Lotteries By James C. Cox; Vjollca Sadiraj; Bodo Vogt
  6. Behavioral Macroeconomics and the New Keynesian Model By Jan-Oliver Menz
  7. Menschenrechte, Soziale Grundrechte, Sozialrecht – Versuch einer Näherung By Herrmann, Peter
  8. Structure versus Agency in the Great Deprivation of 21st Century By Naqvi, Nadeem
  9. The economic value of virtue By Fabio Mariani

  1. By: Levallois, C. (Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM Erasmus University)
    Abstract: Today, Alchian's "Uncertainty, evolution and economic theory" (1950) is hailed by evolutionary economists as a most important piece, which resumed an evolutionary brand of theorizing in economics after the eclipse of the interwar period. On the other hand, Alchian's article is also cherished by standard economists who consider it to be a powerful defense of the maximization principle in the theory of the firm. Our examination of the early intellectual life of Alchian shows that it was his involvement in military systems analysis at the Rand Corporation that led him to reckon that uncertainty was a fundamental obstacle to marginal analysis. We then demonstrate that Alchian's economic natural selection is a statistical argument which, if phrased in biological parlance, owes its logic to statistical mechanics. This invites to reconsider the strong opposition usually made between evolutionist and mechanist modes of thinking.
    Keywords: evolutionary economics;statistical mechanics;Rand Corporation;Ronlad A. Fisher;Armen A. Alchian;theory of the firm
    Date: 2008–12–15
  2. By: Neal S Young
    Abstract: The current system of publication in biomedical research provides a distorted view of the reality of scientific data that are generated in the laboratory and clinic. This system can be studied by applying principles from the field of economics.
    Keywords: scientific data, resources, medical, oligopoly, biological, sciences, publication, research, laboratory, clinic, biomedical, economics, winner's curse,
    Date: 2008
  3. By: Fiore, Annamaria
    Abstract: The aim of this work is presenting in a self-contained paper some methodological aspects as they are received in the current experimental literature. The purpose has been to make a critical review of some very influential papers dealing with methodological issues. In other words, the idea is to have a single paper where people first approaching experimental economics can find summarised (some) of the most important methodological issues. In particular, the focus is on some methodological practises still debated in experimental literature, such as attainment of control in experimental settings, subject pool, incentive mechanisms, repeated trials and learning. The hope is that increasing awareness on some sharing methodologies will improve the robustness of results in this research field.
    Keywords: Experimental Economics; Methodology; Control; Incentives; Learning; Deception.
    JEL: B40 C90
    Date: 2009–01
  4. By: Arup Maharatna
    Abstract: The present paper aims at driving home a hitherto-neglected and perhaps often muted (but important) point, namely, that the confusions and identity crisis that had gripped development economics in the 1980s. This was mainly due to its perennial vulnerability, unlike other branches of economics, to the ideological stakes over the cold war at the global level.
    Keywords: neoclassical, government, academic, theoretical, liberalist, development economics, politics, political, capitalist, socialist, history,
    Date: 2008
  5. By: James C. Cox; Vjollca Sadiraj; Bodo Vogt
    Abstract: Expected value theory has been known for centuries to be subject to critique by St. Petersburg paradox arguments. And there is a traditional rebuttal of the critique that denies the empirical relevance of the paradox because of its apparent dependence on existence of credible offers to pay unbounded sums of money. Neither critique nor rebuttal focus on the question with empirical relevance: Do people make choices in bounded St. Petersburg games that are consistent with expected value theory? This paper reports an experiment that addresses that question.
    Keywords: St. Petersburg paradox, expected value theory, experiment
    Date: 2008–12
  6. By: Jan-Oliver Menz (Department for Economics and Politics, University of Hamburg)
    Abstract: The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, a thorough presentation of the state of the art of the New Keynesian Macroeconomic model is provided. A discussion of its empirical caveats follows and some recent extensions of the standard model are evaluated in more detail. Second, a key insight of Behavioral Economics, hyperbolic discounting, is used for the derivation of the IS Curve. It is argued that this approach is more appropriate than the usual praxis of allowing for a rule-of-thumb agent in an otherwise standard optimization framework.
    Keywords: Behavioral Economics, New Keynesian Model, Rule-of-Thumbs,Hyperbolic Discounting
    JEL: D91 E21 D8
    Date: 2008–12
  7. By: Herrmann, Peter
    Abstract: The essay proposes in a brief sketch a methodology that allows assessing human rights beyond absolutism of abstract rights and relativist views which usually end in meaningless of the concept.
    Keywords: Human Rights; Social Rights; social law; regulationist school
    JEL: B0 D6 A13 A12 B49 I00 A10 A14
    Date: 2009–01–01
  8. By: Naqvi, Nadeem
    Abstract: Agency-based explanations of the great deprivation, contrasted with structure-based explanations, suffer not merely from the criticism of relying on irrational and irresponsible behavior of millions, including that of the most astute financial experts, but are also at a loss to explain why such problems did not arise earlier when the same motivations and behavioral patterns were exhibited, thereby rendering such theories incomplete. Alternatively, if it is argued that such problems did not appear earlier because the economic structure was different then, then again attention must return to an examination of structure, not exclusively place blame on agency failures. (98 words)
    Keywords: structure; agency; great deprivation; financial crisis; fiscal policy; monetary policy; skilled labor markets; American economy; involuntary unemployment; voluntary unemployment; education; training; skill acquisition; income distribution; China; India; Germany; Japan
    JEL: F16 E32 E66 F01 E44 F21
    Date: 2009–01–02
  9. By: Fabio Mariani (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)
    Abstract: We model virtue as an asset on the marriage market : since men value virginity in prospective mates, preserving their virtue increases girls' chances of getting a "good" husband, and therefore allows for upward social mobility. Consistent with some historical and anthropological evidence, we find that the diffusion (and the social value) of virginity, across societies and over time, can be determined, among others, by income inequality, gender differences, social stratification and overall economic development. This is a further example of how cultural and moral values can be affected by economic factors.
    Keywords: Mating, marriage, cultural value, social classes, inequality.
    Date: 2008–12

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