nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2009‒11‒07
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Conversation or Monologue? On Advising Heterodox Economists By Matías Vernengo
  2. What is Economics? – Attitudes and views of German economists By Bruno S. Frey; Silke Humbert; Friedrich Schneider
  3. Trade Groundwork of the Austrian Theory. Božo Stojanovi? (The Faculty of Economics Belgrade, 2009) By Miroslav Prokopijevi?
  4. Procedural Rationality and Happiness By Novarese, Marco; Castellani, Marco; Di Giovinazzo, Viviana
  5. Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories By McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen
  6. On the informal economy: the political history of an ethnographic concept By Keith Hart
  7. Reconstruction of Religion and Ecology Discourses By Hardiansyah, Suteja
  8. Boats and Tides and Trickle Down Theories: What Stochastic Process Theory Has To Say About Modeling Poverty, Inequality, Mobility and Polarization By Gordon Anderson
  9. La Planète et l’Homme - 1e partie: la population du globe et l'espace vital By André Fontana

  1. By: Matías Vernengo
    Abstract: This paper suggests that heterodox economists should not think of themselves as economists first, and only secondarily as heterodox, and must emphasize methodological issues, in particular the different assumptions (or axioms) implicit in their theories vis-à-vis the mainstream. The paper argues that the notion of a cutting edge of the mainstream, which is breaking up with orthodoxy, is misleading. The role of the cutting edge is to allow the mainstream to sound reasonable when talking about reality, while orthodoxy provides authority to the cutting edge. The cutting edge is essential for the mainstream and remains firmly based on orthodox grounds.
    Keywords: Methodology, Heterodox Economics
    JEL: B41 B59
    Date: 2009–11
  2. By: Bruno S. Frey; Silke Humbert; Friedrich Schneider
    Abstract: Which schools of thought are favored by German economists? What makes a good economist and which economists have been most influential? These questions were addressed in a survey, conducted in the summer of 2006 among the members of the ‘Verein für Socialpolitik’, the association of German speaking economists. An econometric analysis is used to identify to what extent ideological preferences or personal factors determine the respondents’ answers. Our results suggest that German economists favor Neoclassics as a school of thought and appreciate the contributions of their Anglo-Saxon colleagues much more than their fellow compatriots’ contributions. Furthermore, a ‘good’ economist should have expertise in a certain field, as well as a broader knowledge of general economics. Some of the results can be compared to Colander (2008). The results indicate that graduate programs noted for their American style greatly influence a student’s opinion as to what attributes a good economist must have.
    Keywords: Economics, economists, school of thought, neoclassics, homo oeconomicus
    Date: 2009–10
  3. By: Miroslav Prokopijevi? (Institute of European Studies, Belgrade)
    Date: 2009–05
  4. By: Novarese, Marco; Castellani, Marco; Di Giovinazzo, Viviana
    Abstract: The Economics of Happiness already recognizes how procedures affect the evaluation of outcomes, although this has only been looked at within the standard framework of substantial rationality. This paper aims to go beyond that kind of approach by linking happiness and procedural rationality, focusing on ‘happiness for choice’ (the individual’s perceived satisfaction after the decision making process). Simon’s model shows the need for defining aspirations whose values are adapted to the past experience in a given environment. Some remarks proposed by Scitovsky’s allow to extend this idea considering the role of creative representation of the world as a way for trying to go beyond the past. These ideas are tested using data on aspirations and satisfaction expressed by students attending an economic course.
    Keywords: Procedural rationality; satisfaction; students; happiness; aspirations
    JEL: D83
    Date: 2009–10–31
  5. By: McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen
    Abstract: Britain was first, though the classical (and many of the neoclassical) economists did not recognize that its course was beginning the factor of 16. The slow British growth in the 18th century proposed by Crafts and Harley is unbelievable, but however one assigns growth within the period 1700-1900 it is now plain that something unprecedented was happening. Only non-economists recognized it at the time. The central puzzle is why innovation did not fizzle out, as Mokyr has put it---as it had at other times and places. Productivity in cotton textiles, for example, grew at computer-industry rates, and continued to into the 20th century. But Europe’s lead was not permanent. The California School of Pomeranz and Goldstone and Allen and others have shown that China led the West in 1500, and maybe as late as 1750, then fell dramatically behind. It was the continuation of European growth in the 19th and 20th centuries that is strange and new. Explaining the Great Divergence requires focusing on non-European events in the 19th century---not some deep-seated European cultural superiority. On the other hand, Europe’s fragmented polity was an advantage, as shown in the swift uptake of the printing press. The way that non-European places like Japan or Botswana or India have been able to grow demonstrates that the stage theories popular in European thought from the 18th century to the present (for example, in modern growth theory) are mistaken. The metaphors of biological stages or human foot races are inapt, as in the business-school talk of “competitiveness” nowadays. The “rise” of non-European economies does not presage a “decline” or Europe or its offshoots, merely a borrowing of social and engineering technologies such as Europe once borrowed from elsewhere. The dignity and liberty of ordinary people stands in the middle of such “technologies.”
    Keywords: industrial revolution; economic history; growth theory; productivity; Britain; China; non-European economies
    JEL: N13 N0
    Date: 2009–07–09
  6. By: Keith Hart (Goldsmiths University of London and , School of Development Studies, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban.)
    Abstract: I explore here the dialectic of formal and informal economy in the context of ‘development’ discourse over the last four decades. It would not be hard, in post-colonial Africa for example, to conceive of this dialectic as a war waged by the bureaucracy on the people, allowing informal economic practices to be portrayed as a kind of democratic resistance. Yet, however much we might endorse the political value of self-organized economic activities, there are tasks of large-scale co-ordination for which bureaucracy is well-suited; and the institution’s origins were closely linked to aspirations for political equality, even if historical experience has undermined that expectation. So the task is not only to find practical ways of harnessing the complementary potential of bureaucracy and informality, but also to advance thinking about their dialectical movement. Informality may be conceived logically in terms of four categories: division, content, negation and residue. Neoliberal globalization has vastly expanded the scope of informal activities; so that we also need to examine what social forms positively organize them and how these relate to governments, corporations and international agencies. The current crisis of world economy has already begun a major swing of the pendulum back from the market to the state (wherever that may be these days). The political potential of our moment in history is well illuminated by a review of how the major development agencies have variously construed the dialectic of bureaucracy and informal economy through the state/market pair since the concept’s origins around 1970.
    Date: 2009–10
  7. By: Hardiansyah, Suteja
    Abstract: Various research of experts prove that the existence of environmental sustainability in danger significantly. Unlike the non-ecological problems, the ecological crisis can not be ignored. Human passivity and activity in response to these problems will determine the story way of environmental ecosystems. Religion as a worldview in its application aims to promote the good of life, can not evade the challenge of the contemporary ecological crisis. This paper will show that religion is inherently having an attitude of respect toward nature. For religion, nature and humans is the presence of The Sacred locus. Thus, man and nature in the light of religion is a thing equal; are both a locus of the Sacred. Basically, ecological crisis in the light of modernization is not rooted in religion an sich. There are other significant factors, namely industrialization, economy, social-culture, behavioral, interaction of agents, politics and technology as an extension of science.
    Keywords: capitalist economic; ecological crisis; anthropocentrism; civilization; spirit[uality]; industrialism; technology; relation
    JEL: Z12 Q0 N5 P1 A14 L00
    Date: 2009–05–30
  8. By: Gordon Anderson
    Abstract: Aphorisms that “Rising tides raise all boats” or that material advances of the rich eventually “Trickle Down” to the poor are really maxims regarding the nature of stochastic processes that underlay the income paths of groups of individuals. This paper looks at the implications of conventional assumptions made by economists concerning such processes for the empirical analysis of wellbeing in terms of poverty, inequality, mobility and polarization. The implications of attributing different processes to different groups in society following the club convergence literature are also discussed. Various forms of poverty, inequality and income mobility structures are considered and much of the conventional wisdom afforded us by such aphorisms is questioned. To exemplify these ideas the results are applied to the distribution of GDP per capita in the continent of Africa.
    Keywords: Stochastic Processes, Poverty, Inequality, Mobility, Polarization
    JEL: I3
    Date: 2009–10–23
  9. By: André Fontana (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.)
    Abstract: L'évolution de la population du globe est mise en parrallèle avec les différentes civilisations. La poussée démagographique présente des fortes discontinuités en liaison avec la découverte de nouvelles technologies et la sédentarisation des peuples. Si la croissance actuelle se maintient, de profonds bouleversements devraient se présenter d'ici 2050 en raison des disponibilités en espace vital. La seconde partie évoquera les limites liées aux disponibilités au niveau atmosphère, accès à l'eau et à la nourriture et à la problématique énergétique.
    Keywords: population mondiale, civilisations, espace vital
    Date: 2009–10

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