nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2012‒11‒03
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Poverty and Subsistence. The Mercantilist Point of View By Cosma Orsi
  2. Goodwin in Siena – Economist, Social Philosopher and Artist By Massimo Di Matteo; Serena Sordi
  3. On Richard Goodwin’s Elementary Economics from the Higher Standpoint By Guglielmo Chiodi
  4. The Geometrist of Economic Dynamics: Richard Goodwin's Birth Centennial By K.Vela Velupillai
  5. Transcendental vs. Comparative Approaches to Justice : A Reappraisal of Sen’s Dichotomy. By Ragip Ege; Herrade Igersheim; Charlotte Le Chapelain
  6. Towards a Political Economy of the Theory of Economic Policy By K.Vela Velupillai
  7. The Epistemology of Simulation, Computation and Dynamics in Economics By K.Vela Velupillai
  8. Game Theory in Oligopoly By Marx Boopathi
  9. The Relevance of Computation Irreducibility as Computation Universality in Economics By K. Vela Velupillai

  1. By: Cosma Orsi (DISCE,Università Cattolica)
    Abstract: The aim of this article is to look at ideas of social welfare in the English political economy from the 16th to the early 18th Century. In doing so, we shall focus upon the relationship between English Mercantilist economic thought and the evolution of the institutional framework established in order to cope with the problem of poverty and unemployment. In other words, rather than viewing Mercantilism as an “exercise in economic nationalism” we shall inquiry it under the perspective of social policy. Although the most credited assessments of Mercantilism have depicted it as a doctrine which supported a “ruthlessly materialistic ruling class which did not merely neglect but actively exploited the poor”, by placing the emphasis on the role played by the allowance system in the overall strategy of poor relief in England throughout the 17th Century we shall see that during the Mercantilist period social policies were not neglectful of the need of the poor. This reinforced the idea of a social Mercantilism.
    Keywords: Mercantilism, Poverty, Unemployment, Allowances System
    JEL: B11
    Date: 2012–09
  2. By: Massimo Di Matteo; Serena Sordi
    Abstract: This article describes the years of Goodwin’s ‘third life’ at the University of Siena, stressing in particular his main contributions to economic theory, the evolution in his political and philosophical ideas and his love of art. First, after a brief description of his arrival in Siena and of the background he found there, we explore some of his contributions of the period and we argue that his achievements in the explanation of irregular growth cycles are remarkable and still open to further analysis and generalisation. Second, we remark that, as testified by an unpublished essay, in these years of dramatic changes such as the Fall of the Berlin Wall, his social philosophical beliefs underwent a significant evolution. Finally, we conclude with a tribute to Goodwin, the abstract painter.
    Keywords: Economic dynamics, MKS system, Long waves, Growth cycle, Chaos
    JEL: B31 C61 E32
    Date: 2012
  3. By: Guglielmo Chiodi
    Date: 2012
  4. By: K.Vela Velupillai
    Date: 2012
  5. By: Ragip Ege; Herrade Igersheim; Charlotte Le Chapelain
    Abstract: In The Idea of Justice, Sen describes two competing approaches to theorizing about justice: “transcendental institutionalism,” in which he includes Rawls, and “realization-focused comparison,” in which he includes Condorcet and himself. This paper questions the robustness of his dichotomy through an examination of the works of Condorcet, Rawls, and Sen himself. We show that none belongs exclusively to either tradition. Further, we claim that an appeal to the concept of metaranking, developed by Sen in the 1970s, enables us to overcome the distinction between the transcendental and the comparative traditions and in the last instance to reconcile the two approaches.
    Date: 2012
  6. By: K.Vela Velupillai
    Abstract: The theory of economic policy, in its mathematical modes, may be said to have had two incarnations, identified in terms of pre-Lucasian and ultra-Lucasian on a time-scale, whose origin can be traced to the Scandinavian works of the 1920s and early 1930s, beginning with Lindahl (1924, 1929), Frisch (1933) and Myrdal (1933). The end - mercifully (meant perversely) - of the ultra-Lucasian period, in Frances Fukuyama senses, might well have been the date of Prescott's Nobel Prize Lecture (Prescott, 2004). The codification of what may be called the `classical' theory of economic policy was initiated in the pioneering formalisations by Frisch (1949, a, b), and Tinbergen (1952), elegantly summarised in Bent Hansen's early, advanced, text book (Hansen, 1955). The launching pads for the ultra-Lucasian period were the Lucas Critique (Lucas, 1975), the elementary saddle-point dynamics based policy ineffectiveness `theorem' in a Rational Expectations context by Sargent and Wallace (1976) and the Dynamic Programming based Time-Invariance proposition in Kydland and Prescott(1977). In this essay I try, first of all, to trace a path of the mathematisation of the theory of economic policy, from this specific origin to the stated culminating point. Secondly, an attempt is made to expose the nature of the Emperor's New (Mathematical) Clothes in which the mathematisation of the theory of economic policy was attired. Finally, it is shown that the obfuscation by the mathematics of efficiency, equilibrium and the fundamental theorems of welfare economics can be dispelled by an enlightened, alternative, mathematisation that makes it possible to resurrect the poetic tradition in economics and ‘connect the prose in us with the passion’ for policy in the manner in which Geoff Harcourt has `connected' them.
    Date: 2012
  7. By: K.Vela Velupillai
    Abstract: Computation and Simulation have always played a role in economics – whether it be pure economic theory or any variant of applied, especially policy oriented, macro and micro economics or what has increasingly come to be called empirical economics. This is a tradition that can, without too much difficulty, be traced to the spirit and vision of the founding father of Political Economy --as Political Arithmetic -- by William Petty, whose finest exponent was, in my opinion, Richard Stone, in modern times a noble tradition whose living custodian is Lance Taylor. In this paper their spirit is the driving force, but it is given new theoretical foundations, mainly as a result of developments in the mathematics underpinnings of the tremendous developments in the potentials of computing, especially using digital technology. A running theme in this essay is the recognition --never neglected by Petty, Stone or Taylor --that, increasingly, the development of economic theory seems to go hand in hand with advances in the theory and practice of computing, which is, in turn, a catalyst for the move away from too much reliance on any kind of mathematics for the formalisation of economic entities that is inconsistent with the mathematical, philosophical and epistemological foundations of the digital computer.
    Keywords: Simulation, Computation, Computable, Analysis, Dynamics Proof, Algorithm
    Date: 2012
  8. By: Marx Boopathi
    Abstract: The game theory techniques are used to find the equilibrium of a market. Game theory refers to the ways in which strategic interactions among economic agents produce outcomes with respect to the preferences (or utilities) of those agents, where the outcomes in question might have been intended by none of the agents. The oligopolistic market structures are taken and how game theory applies to them is explained.
    Date: 2012–10
  9. By: K. Vela Velupillai
    Abstract: Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science should have made a greater impact in economics - at least in its theorising and computational modes – than it seems to have. There are those who subscribe to varieties of agent-based modelling, who do refer to Wolfram’s paradigms - a word I use with the utmost trepidation -- whenever simulational exercises within a framework of cellular automata is invoked to make claims on complexity, emergence, holism, reduction and many such buzz words. Very few of these exercises, and their practitioners, seem to be aware of the deep mathematical -- and even metamathematical-- underpinnings of Wolfram’s innovative concepts, particularly of computational equivalence and computational irreducibility in the works of Turing and Ulam. Some threads of these foundational underpinnings are woven together to form a possible tapestry for economic theorising and modelling in computable modes.
    Keywords: Computational equivalence, Computational irreducibility, Computation universality.
    Date: 2012

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