nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2011‒10‒09
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. The Political Economy of Textbook Writing: Paul Samuelson and the making of the first ten Editions of Economics (1945-1976) By Yann Giraud
  2. The 'logic of gift' in business By Argandoña, Antonio
  3. Plädoyer für eine problemorientierte, lerntheoretisch fachlich fundierte ökonomische Bildung By Krol, Gerd-Jan; Loerwald, Dirk; Müller, Christian
  4. Christopher Freeman: Social Science Entrepreneur By Jan Fagerberg; Morten Fosaas; Martin Bell; Ben Martin
  5. Economic Sociology or Economic Imperialism? The Case of Gary C. Becker By Tittenbrun, Jacek S.
  6. The common good By Argandoña, Antonio
  7. Climate Change and Individual Decision Making: An Examination of Knowledge, Risk Perception, Self-interest and Their Interplay By Francesca Pongiglione
  8. Human Recognition and its Role in Economic Development: A Descriptive Review By Tony Castleman
  9. How Do Editors Select Papers, and How Good are They at Doing It? By Robert Hofmeister; Matthias Krapf

  1. By: Yann Giraud (THEMA, Universite de Cergy-Pontoise)
    Abstract: Over the past two decades, numerous contributions to the history of economics have tried to assess Paul Samuelson’s political positioning by tracing it in the subsequent editions of his famous textbook Economics. This literature, however, has provided no consensus about the location of Samuelson’s political ideas. While some authors believe that Samuelson has always had inclinations toward interventionism, others conclude that he more often acted as a pro-business advocate. The purpose of this paper is not to argue for one of these two interpretations but to depict the making of Economics itself as a political process. By ‘political’ it is not meant the conduct of party politics but the many political elements that a textbook author has to take into account if he wants to be published and favorably received. I argue that the “middle of the road” stance that Samuelson adopted in the book was consciously constructed by the MIT economist, with the help of his home institution and his publishing company, McGraw-Hill, to ensure both academic freedom and the success of the book. The reason for which the stance developed is related to pre-McCarthyist right-wing criticisms of the textbook and how Samuelson and the MIT department had to endure the pressures from members of the Corporation (MIT’s Board of Trustees), who tried to prevent the publication of the textbook and threatened Samuelson’s tenure at MIT as soon as 1947 – when early manuscripts were circulated. As a result, it was decided in accordance with both the Corporation and McGraw-Hill that the Readings volume would be published to balance conflicting ideas about state intervention. Following these early criticisms, the making of the subsequent editions relied on a network of instructors and referees all over the US in order to make it as successful and consensual as possible. This seemed to work quite well in the 1950s and for a good portion of the 1960s, until Economics became victim of its own success and was seen, in an ironical twist of fate, as a right wing text by younger, radical economists. From now on, Samuelson will try to have his book sent as often as possible to the radicals for referring process, with mixed results. Eventually, the book became criticized from both its left and its right.
    Keywords: Paul Samuelson, Economics, Textbook, Politics, Economic Education
    JEL: A14 B20 B31
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Argandoña, Antonio (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: Traditionally, the Social Doctrine of the Church was founded on principles and virtues. Then, the Encyclical Letter Caritas in veritate introduced the "logic of gift" and the "principle of gratuitousness" as essential ingredients of economic life. In contrast, the traditional theory of the firm, based on contracts, has no place for love; and likewise, the economics of altruism and gift is inspired in self-interest, a paradigm that is alien to behavior ruled by love. This paper discusses the relationship between Benedict XVI's ideas on love and gift and the "logic of virtues", which has already been incorporated into the theory of the firm. Following an analysis of the concepts of love, gift and gratuitousness and of the role of virtues in management, a parallel is developed between acting in a virtuous way and "donating goods", material or otherwise, including developing virtues and "giving love". This argument is developed in three areas: the market (exchange of equivalents), the State (duty), and civil society (fraternity). The Encyclical underlines that the "logic of gift" should be present in all three, not only in the third sector.
    Keywords: Love; gift; gratuity/gratuitousness; virtue; theory firm;
    Date: 2011–07–15
  3. By: Krol, Gerd-Jan; Loerwald, Dirk; Müller, Christian
    Abstract: In der Diskussion um die Frage, wie ökonomische Bildung im allgemeinbildenden Schulwesen in Deutschland verankert werden soll, wird der Stellenwert der Wirtschaftswissenschaften als Bezugsdisziplin aktuell kontrovers diskutiert. Wir vertreten in dieser Diskussion die These, dass die Anbindung der ökonomischen Bildung an die Ökonomik - verstanden im weitesten Sinne als Wirtschaftswissenschaften (economics) - für den Aufbau einer kategorial legitimierten und an Lebenssituationen exemplifizierten Fachkompetenz unerlässlich ist. Im vorliegenden Diskussionsbeitrag sollen zunächst die Bildungsrelevanz und der methodologische Stellenwert des Rational-Choice-Paradigmas für die ökonomische Bildung herausgearbeitet werden. Darauf aufbauend wollen wir deutlich machen, dass mit Hilfe ökonomischer Fachkompetenz ökonomisch geprägte Lebenssituationen besser bewältigt und die ökonomischen Dimensionen unserer Gesellschaft besser in übergeordnete Sach- und Sinnzusammenhänge eingeordnet werden können. Abschließend werden die mit einem an die Ökonomik angebundenen Ansatz ökonomischer Bildung verbundenen institutionellen und unterrichtspraktischen Herausforderungen skizziert. -- In Germany we face a rather broad discussion of how to implement economic education in schools. One of its main topics is the relevance of economics as a scientific discipline in the concept of economic education, aiming at more competence in dealing with economic issues. In this paper we do not restrict economic education to economic everyday life situations, but additionally we consider a specific perspective based on economics as absolutely essential. We first point out the relevance of the Rational Choice Paradigm. We show that the special economic perspective enables students to deal better with everyday life situations as well as in understanding our economy and society in factual and also ethical respects. We conclude outlining important challenges of implementing a concept of economic education that is guided by economics in a broad sense as a source of knowledge and competence.
    JEL: A20 B41
    Date: 2011
  4. By: Jan Fagerberg (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo); Morten Fosaas (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo); Martin Bell (SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research, The Freeman Centre, University of Sussex); Ben Martin (SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research, The Freeman Centre, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: This paper focuses on Christopher Freeman’s contributions to the field of innovation studies. First, we consider his role as the creator of various organisational and intellectual frameworks crucial for the field’s development, including the main research activities he initiated. Next, we examine the publications by Freeman that these activities led to. A database of surveys of the innovation literature, assembled from articles in handbooks covering this area, is used to identify the most influential of his writings for this field. In addition, citations to these works in scholarly journals are analysed in order to examine the nature and extent of his influence on other scholars. The final section sums up the evidence regarding Freeman’s influence on the field’s development. A list of Freeman’s scholarly works is included as an appendix.
    Keywords: Freeman, innovation studies, SPRU, economics of innovation, innovation systems
    Date: 2011–09
  5. By: Tittenbrun, Jacek S.
    Abstract: The paper is devoted to a critical analysis of a number of key theories by Gary S. Becker. It is commonly believed that his main accomplishment lies in the extension of the scope of an economic analysis to include numerous traditionally considered as non-economic phenomena. This extension, however, is only feasible at the expense of another extension – this time of the scope of the concepts used. This over-inclusiveness , in turn, makes his theories impossible to falsify, thus calling into question their scientific quality. In the process of considering particular Becker’s conceptions, i.e. human and social capital, the family, marriage and household and the polity a host of other specific drawbacks of Becker’s economic approach to social processes, often related to his ideological bias are indicated.
    Keywords: Becker; human capital; social capital; marriage; altruism; self-interest family
    JEL: A12
    Date: 2011–09–25
  6. By: Argandoña, Antonio (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: The concept of the common good occupied a relevant place in classical social, political and economic philosophy. After losing ground in the Modern age, it has recently reappeared, although with different and sometimes confusing meanings. This paper is the draft of a chapter of a Handbook; it explains the meaning of common good in the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and in the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church; why the common good is relevant; and how it is different from the other uses of the term in the liberal and liberal-welfarist, communitarian and totalitarian social philosophies, and in the capabilities approach.
    Keywords: Capabilities; Common Good; Liberalism; Society;
    Date: 2011–07–17
  7. By: Francesca Pongiglione (, Post-doctoral fellow, Università di Bologna, Visiting fellow, FEEM)
    Abstract: In this essay, three separate yet interconnected components of pro-environmental decision making are considered: (a) knowledge, in the form of basic scientific understanding and procedural knowledge, (b) risk perception, as it relates to an individual’s direct experience of climate change and (c) self-interest, either monetary or status-driven. Drawing on a variety of sources in public policy, psychology, and economics, I examine the role of these concepts in inducing or discouraging pro-environmental behavior. Past researches have often overemphasized the weight of just one of those variables in the decision making. I argue, instead, that none of them alone is capable of bringing about the behavioral change required by the environmental crisis. Evidence shows that increasing the public’s scientific knowledge of climate change cannot unilaterally bring about a strong behavioral change. The same can be noticed even when knowledge is joined by risk-perception: deep psychological mechanisms may steer people towards inaction and apathy, despite their direct experience of the detrimental effects of climate change on their lives. Focusing on self-interest alone is similarly unable to induce pro-environmental behavior, due to a host of psychological factors. Instead, in all of the above cases an important missing ingredient may be found in providing the public with locally contextualized procedural knowledge in order to translate its knowledge and concern into action. The importance of this kind of practical knowledge has solid empirical and theoretical underpinnings, and is often overlooked in the climate-change debate that tends to focus on more high-level issues. Yet, for all its essential simplicity, it may carry important public-policy implications.
    Keywords: Individual Behavior, Climate-Change, Psychology, Uncertainty
    JEL: D80 Q00
    Date: 2011–09
  8. By: Tony Castleman (Institute for International Economic Policy, George Washington University)
    Abstract: This paper introduces the concept of human recognition, defined as the acknowledgement provided to an individual by other individuals, groups, or organizations that he is of inherent value with intrinsic qualities in common with the recognizer. The sources, effects, and qualities of human recognition are described and analyzed qualitatively, and a detailed example is presented to illustrate the roles that human recognition plays in development programs. The paper uses narrative descriptions and examples to explore the mechanisms by which human recognition can enhance or undermine program objectives and directly affect the well-being of program participants. A review of research on related concepts finds that while much of this reserach is relevant and instructive to the study of human recognition in development settings, the concept of human recognition has not been directly addressed in existing work and that its study would help address a number of gaps in the current literature. Subsequent theoretical and empirical work is needed to formalize and test the hypotheses and models that this paper describes qualitatively.
    Keywords: human recognition, economic development, health, poverty, well-being, dignity, respect, dehumanization, humiliation
    JEL: I31 O15 O10
    Date: 2011–08
  9. By: Robert Hofmeister (Department of Economics, University of Konstanz, Germany); Matthias Krapf (Chair for International Personnel Management, University Wien, Austria)
    Abstract: Using data on the B.E. Journals that rank articles into four quality tiers, this paper examines the accuracy of the research evaluation process in economics. We find that submissions by authors with strong publication records and authors affiliated with highly-ranked institutions are significantly more likely to be published in higher tiers. Citation success as measured by RePEc statistics also depends heavily on the overall research records of the authors. Finally and most importantly, we measure how successful the B.E. Journals’ editors and their reviewers have been at assigning articles to quality tiers. While, on average, they are able to distinguish more influential from less influential manuscripts, we also observe many assignments that are not compatible with the belief that research quality is reflected by the number of citations.
    Keywords: Peer Review, Research Evaluation, Citations, Journal Quality
    JEL: A10 A14
    Date: 2011–09–29

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