nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2012‒04‒10
sixteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Ética y Justicia. Reflexiones a partir de The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen By Mejía Cubillos, Javier
  2. Keynesian Historiography and the Anti-Semitism Question By E. Roy Weintraub
  3. The doctrinal paradox, the discursive dilemma, and logical aggregation theory By Mongin, Philippe
  4. How can Language be linked to Economics? A Survey of Two Strands of Research By Weiguo Zhang; Gilles Grenier
  5. Wandering through the Borderlands of the Social Sciences: Gary Becker's Economics of Discrimination By Jean-Baptiste Fleury
  6. Hayek in Freiburg By Vanberg, Viktor J.
  7. The Chimera of a Complete Analysis of Economic Dynamics By K. Vela Velupillai
  8. Testing game theory without the social preference confound By Michał Krawczyk; Fabrice Le Lec
  9. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism the Haugian Way. By Grytten, Ola H.
  10. A Behavioral Defense of Rational Expectations By Kenneth Kasa;
  11. Robustness to Strategic Uncertainty By Andersson, Ola; Argenton, Cédric; Weibull, Jörgen W.
  12. Le "corps et l'habit", les tailleurs et le public. Analyse du texte d'H.-C. Carey : Letters on international Copyright (1853) By Pierre-André Mangolte
  13. On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics By Omar Al-Ubaydli; John A. List
  14. New Insights into Conditional Cooperation and Punishment from a Strategy Method Experiment By Cheung, Stephen L.
  15. Steel, style and status: the economics of the cantilever chair, 1929-1936 By Vogelgsang, Tobias
  16. Cooperative Situations: Representations, Games and Cost Allocations By Kleppe, J.; Borm, P.E.M.; Hendrickx, R.L.P.; Reijnierse, J.H.

  1. By: Mejía Cubillos, Javier
    Abstract: This paper carries out a brief analysis of Amartya Sen’s thinking on Justice, based on Part IV of his book The Idea of Justice. Besides of describing Sen’s thoughts on the subject, the paper aims to contextualize it in the evolution of Sen’s work and in the general discussion on Justice in economic theory, reconsidering his identity as a non utilitarian philosopher and reevaluating its importance in the history of economic thought. This work is important because it contributes to a better understanding of the most recent ideas of one of the most influential thinkers in moral discussion. The theory of Justice proposed by Sen has clear pragmatic features and does not pretend to determine an ideal set of conditions under which one can speak of absolute justice. In his theory, Justice does not require the existence of particular institutions, the subsistence of identical preferences among the members of society or the development of specific behaviors. The argumentative axis of his theory is the concept of public reasoning, whereby society would have to determine what Justice is about. Thus, Sen analyzes the main elements that would affect public reasoning in a society, including Democracy, as the ideal system for social dialogue, and Liberty, as a key factor of human welfare.
    Keywords: Amartya Sen; Ethics; Justice; Utilitarianism; Consequentialism
    JEL: B31 D63 A13 B41
    Date: 2012–03–13
  2. By: E. Roy Weintraub
    Keywords: John Maynard Keynes, discrimination, history of economics
    Date: 2012
  3. By: Mongin, Philippe
    Abstract: Judgment aggregation theory, or rather, as we conceive of it here, logical aggregation theory generalizes social choice theory by having the aggregation rule bear on judgments of all kinds instead of merely preference judgments. It derives from Kornhauser and Sager’s doctrinal paradox and List and Pettit’s discursive dilemma, two problems that we distinguish emphatically here. The current theory has developed from the discursive dilemma, rather than the doctrinal paradox, and the final objective of the paper is to give the latter its own theoretical development along the line of recent work by Dietrich and Mongin. However, the paper also aims at reviewing logical aggregation theory as such, and it covers impossibility theorems by Dietrich, Dietrich and List, Dokow and Holzman, List and Pettit, Mongin, Nehring and Puppe, Pauly and van Hees, providing a uniform logical framework in which they can be compared with each other. The review goes through three historical stages: the initial paradox and dilemma, the scattered early results on the independence axiom, and the so-called canonical theorem, a collective achievement that provided the theory with its specific method of analysis. The paper goes some way towards philosophical logic, first by briefly connecting the modern philosophy of judgment, and second by thoroughly discussing and axiomatizing the "general logic" built in this framework.
    Keywords: Judgment Aggregation; Logical Aggregation; Doctrinal Paradox; Judgment Aggregation; Logical Aggregation; Doctrinal Paradox; Discursive Dilemma; General Logic; Premiss-Based vs Conclusion-Based Approach; Social Choice Theory; Impossibility Theorems
    JEL: D71 D70 D79
    Date: 2012
  4. By: Weiguo Zhang (Center fo Economic Rsearch, Shandong University, 27 South Shanda Road, Shandong, P.R.China,250100); Gilles Grenier (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier E., Ottawa,Ontario)
    Abstract: As the use of languages is playing a more and more important role in economic activities with the globalization of the world economy, there is growing interest in the relationship between language and economic theory. The rapidly expanding literature in this field, however, is highly fragmented. It is difficult to tell what this field of study focuses on, what has actually been investigated, and what remains to be studied. The authors attempt to review, assess and categorize the major orientations of the research on the economics of language. Those include a traditional strand of research that has focused on language and economic status, the dynamic development of languages, and language policy and planning, as well as a new strand based on game theory and pragmatics. The authors propose the use of the term “Language and economics” to define this area of research.
    Keywords: economics of language, language skill, human capital, language planning, game theory, pragmatics.
    JEL: A12 J24 C79
    Date: 2012
  5. By: Jean-Baptiste Fleury
    Keywords: Gary Becker, discrimination, history of economics
    Date: 2012
  6. By: Vanberg, Viktor J.
    Abstract: The university of Freiburg is known as home of the ordo-liberal Freiburg School (Vanberg 1998), a research tradition that was founded in the 1930s by a group of economists and jurists who shared the conviction that a properly functioning market order needs to be framed by appropriate rules, that such framework is not selfgenerating but needs to be cultivated and enforced by government, and that law and economics are called upon to provide the institutional knowledge required for that purpose. To this research tradition and, specifically, to its principal founder Walter Eucken, Hayek referred when, on June 18 1962, in his inaugural lecture at the university of Freiburg he stated: 'Special mention is due to the personal contacts with professional colleagues which have for decades provided for me a connection with this university. ... By far the most important for me was however the friendship of many years' standing, based on the closest agreement on scientific as well as on political questions, with the unforgettable Walter Eucken. During the last four years of his life this friendship had led to close collaboration. .... You know better than I what Eucken has achieved in Germany. I need therefore not explain further wh at it means if I say here today that I shall regard it as one of my chief tasks to resume and continue the tradition which Eucken and his friends have created at Freiburg and in Germany. It is a tradition of the greatest scientific integrity and at the same time of outspoken conviction on the great issues of public life.' (Hayek 1967 [1963]: 252f.). --
    Date: 2012
  7. By: K. Vela Velupillai
    Abstract: Alberto Quadrio Curzio’s lifelong research efforts have been characterised by depth of vision, breadth of scholarship, a growing awareness of the need for sensitive mediation between theoretical analysis and empirical, policy oriented, concerns and, above all, the need for underpinning every kind of aim with an institutional and historical perspective. This contribution to a Festschrift in his honour aims to take up one small aspect of one of his many faceted theoretical concerns. Alberto Quadrio Curzio’s conviction that there can be no ‘complete’ analysis of economic dynamics - not even a ‘complete’ formalisation of this tortuous notion - is given some content (albeit a very minor one) in this paper.
    Date: 2012
  8. By: Michał Krawczyk (University of Warsaw, Faculty of Economic Sciences); Fabrice Le Lec (Catholic University of Lille, Lille Economie & Management UMR CNRS 8179)
    Abstract: We propose an experimental method whose purpose is to induce selfish behavior in games for a broad class of social preferences. It provides a theoretical framework for testing game theoretical predictions by confronting subjects with a commonly known payoff matrix actually representing their preferences. The paper describes the empirical tests of this method based on the comparison of results from several popular experimental games played with and without our methodology. Apart from it being a test of validity of the method, our experiment helps answer the question of how useful social preferences could be in explaining commonly observed deviations from selfish rationality. Results suggest that our method does induce more selfish behaviors: a substantial part of the difference between predictions based on selfishness and observed behaviors seems indeed driven by such preferences. But they also indicate that a considerable share is left untouched, perhaps giving weight to alternative explanations.
    Keywords: social preference, experimental game theory, ultimatum game, public goods game, trust game, prisoner's dilemma, dictator game
    JEL: A13 C65 C72 D63 D03
    Date: 2012
  9. By: Grytten, Ola H. (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)
    Abstract: On the basis of availabale sources the present paper seeks to map entrepreneural industrial activities the Norwegian puritan revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824) was involved in and quantify his financial activities. It also tries to map entrepreneural activities by his followers. The paper concludes that these activities must have played a decisive role for the economic development in Norway during the nineteenth century.
    Keywords: Norwegian puritan revivalist Hans Nielsen Hauge; entrepreneural industrial activities.
    JEL: N23 N33 N63 N83 O14 O16
    Date: 2012–04–02
  10. By: Kenneth Kasa (Simon Fraser University);
    Abstract: This paper studies decision making by agents who value optimism, but are unsure of their environment. As in Brunnermeier and Parker (2005), an agent’s optimism is assumed to be tempered by the decision costs it imposes. As in Hansen and Sargent (2008), an agent’s uncertainty about his environment leads him to formulate ‘robust’ decision rules. It is shown that when combined, these two considerations can lead agents to adhere to the Rational Expectations Hypothesis. Rather than being the outcome of the sophisticated statistical calculations of an impassive expected utility maximizer, Rational Expectations can instead be viewed as a useful approximation in environments where agents struggle to strike a balance between doubt and hope.
    Keywords: Rational expectations; robustness
    JEL: D81 D84
    Date: 2012–03
  11. By: Andersson, Ola (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Argenton, Cédric (CentER & TILEC); Weibull, Jörgen W. (Stockholm School of Economics)
    Abstract: In games with continuum strategy sets, we model a player’s uncertainty about another player’s strategy, as an atomless probability distribution over the other player’s strategy set. We call a strategy profile (strictly) robust to strategic uncertainty if it is the limit, as uncertainty vanishes, of some sequence (all sequences) of strategy profiles in which every player’s strategy is optimal under his or her uncertainty about the others. General properties of this robustness criterion are derived and it is shown that it is a refinement of Nash equilibrium when payoff functions are continuous. We apply the criterion to a class of Bertrand competition games. These are discontinuous games that admit a continuum of Nash equilibria. Our robustness criterion selects a unique Nash equilibrium, and this selection agrees with recent experimental findings.
    Keywords: Nash equilibrium; Refinement; Strategic uncertainty; Bertrand competition; Log-concavity
    JEL: C72 D43 L13
    Date: 2012–03–30
  12. By: Pierre-André Mangolte (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - Université Paris XIII - Paris Nord - CNRS : UMR7234)
    Abstract: Cet article, produit pour le site "Controverses du XIXe siècle sur la propriété intellectuelle" est une analyse du texte de l'économiste Henry Carey sur la question du copyright international. Dans tous les pays où existait une loi du copyright (ou du droit d'auteur) jusqu'au milieu du XIXe siècle, la validité du droit accordé s'arrêtait aux frontières, et les auteurs étrangers ne pouvaient en bénéficier. L'économie du livre était donc duale, la libre réimpression des textes publiés à l'étranger étant alors une règle générale, ce qui, dans certains pays, donna naissance à une activité prospère d'édition d'œuvres étrangères, en particulier aux Etats-Unis pour les œuvres anglaises encore sous copyright en Angleterre. Dans son ouvrage, Carey prend la défense de cette économie du reprint contre les partisans de la propriété intellectuelle et littéraire. Il développe une critique radicale du copyright, en posant l'absence du contrôle des textes et des idées comme un idéal et la condition même de la culture et de la liberté, et de la démocratie dans sa forme républicaine. Le modèle américain s'opposant ici au modèle de l'empire brittanique. Son texte est alors en parfaite continuité avec la décision de la Cour Suprême sur le "copyright perpétuel en common law" de Wheaton v. Peters (1834). Mais Carey va plus loin. S'appuyant sur sa propre expérience d'ancien éditeur, il défend le principe d'une économie de l'édition de droit naturel, sans aucun copyright, où les auteurs sont payés à la livraison des manuscrits et les textes librement ré-imprimables dès la première publication, mettant ainsi tous les éditeurs et toutes les formes d'édition en concurrence. Carey esquisse par ailleurs une analyse globale de l'économie des connaissances et des œuvres qui s'intéresse à la production des textes (les "habits" portant les connaissances) à partir d'éléments souvent produits par d'autres et conservés en stock et en propriété commune. Ces éléments, ré-arrangés, transformés, améliorés, par des auteurs (des "tailleurs d'habits") sont éventuellement privatisés temporairement par le copyright, mais finalement remis dans la propriété commune. L'auteur est posé comme un travailleur comme les autres, et replacé dans des rapports collectifs, entre les producteurs de faits et d'idées et le public, en opposition frontale à la conception des partisans de la propriété littéraire, où le seul rapport pris en compte est celui d'un auteur-propriétaire, avec son œuvre et son marché.
    Keywords: copyright international; propriété littéraire, propriété intellectuelle; économie de la réimpression;
    Date: 2011–10
  13. By: Omar Al-Ubaydli; John A. List
    Abstract: Economists are increasingly turning to the experimental method as a means to estimate causal effects. By using randomization to identify key treatment effects, theories previously viewed as untestable are now scrutinized, efficacy of public policies are now more easily verified, and stakeholders can swiftly add empirical evidence to aid their decision-making. This study provides an overview of experimental methods in economics, with a special focus on developing an economic theory of generalizability. Given that field experiments are in their infancy, our secondary focus pertains to a discussion of the various parameters that they identify, and how they add to scientific knowledge. We conclude that until we conduct more field experiments that build a bridge between the lab and the naturally-occurring settings of interest we cannot begin to make strong conclusions empirically on the crucial question of generalizability from the lab to the field.
    JEL: C9 C91 C92 C93 D03
    Date: 2012–03
  14. By: Cheung, Stephen L.
    Abstract: Understanding the forces that enhance or erode cooperation in social dilemmas is a fundamental question in social science. Previous experiments have shown that selfish bias is an important source of fragility in conditional cooperation, and that the possibility of punishment can strengthen cooperation, however potential efficiency gains are threatened by antisocial punishment of higher contributors. This paper introduces new experimental designs to examine how these behaviours respond to the full range of variation in the contributions of others. It is shown that selfish bias becomes significantly worse as others contribute more unequally, while punishment increases both with decreasing contributions by the target player and increasing contributions by a third player. Antisocial punishment is seldom directed specifically toward high contributors; rather, it may be motivated by pre-emptive retaliation.
    Keywords: strategy method; punishment; conditional cooperation; selfish bias
    Date: 2012–01
  15. By: Vogelgsang, Tobias
    Abstract: The cantilever chair is an iconic consumer product of the twentieth century and stands for a modern, progressive lifestyle. It is expensive, often used to furnish exclusive spaces and thereby the opposite of its original artistic vision from the late 1920s. By way of comparing historical prices and wages, this paper establishes that the cantilever chair was never a cheap mass commodity but almost immediately acquired an upmarket status with corresponding prices. This is accounted for by programmatic demands of the creative environment from which the chair originated, through the chair's legal status as artwork, consumer tastes, strategic marketing choices and ultimately institutions.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2012–03
  16. By: Kleppe, J.; Borm, P.E.M.; Hendrickx, R.L.P.; Reijnierse, J.H. (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)
    Abstract: We apply the procedure to both existing and new classes of cooperative situations: sequencing situations without initial ordering, maintenance problems, minimum cost spanning tree situations, travelling salesman problems, shared taxi problems and travelling repairman problems.
    Keywords: cooperative situation;order problem representation;transferable utility game;generalised Bird allocation.
    JEL: C
    Date: 2012

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