nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2016‒06‒04
eight papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Pursuing the Evolutionary Agenda in Economics and Management Research By Sidney G. Winter
  2. A universal construction generating potential games By Kukushkin, Nikolai S.
  3. Do I care if others lie? Current and future effects of delegation of lying By Serhiy Kandul; Oliver Kirchkamp
  4. Exploring the Concept of Homeostasis and Considering its Implications for Economics By Antonio Damasio; Hanna Damasio
  5. Destroying Surplus and Buying Time in Unanimity Bargaining By Volker Britz
  6. Human Learning and Modern Economic growth: What is the Connection? By Gianpaolo Mariutti
  7. Self-fulfilling mistakes : Characterization and welfare By Dalton, Patricio; Ghosal, Sayantan
  8. Can an interdisciplinary field contribute to one of the parent disciplines from which it emerged? By Anirban Chakraborti; Dhruv Raina; Kiran Sharma

  1. By: Sidney G. Winter
    Abstract: This essay first reviews what Nelson and Winter were trying to accomplish when they put forward An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (Belknap Press, Harvard, 1982). It then does a fast-forward to controversies and contributions in the recent past, and speculates on where the intellectual enterprise might be headed from here. The issues involved in the original motivations are definitely alive and well. Aside from the review of the basic issues behind the NW project, an important theme here is that an evolutionary approach to economics entails a degree of engagement with the realities of business organization and the quest for profit that has no parallel in mainstream economics. Thus it makes sense in retrospect that the evolutionary program has proved more influential in other research fields, including strategic management, technology studies and organization theory, than it is in economics proper. Recent controversies underscore the continuing existence of a challenging research agenda featuring the interactions among the dynamic processes at different levels - individuals, firms and market environments.
    Date: 2016–05–28
  2. By: Kukushkin, Nikolai S.
    Abstract: Strategic games are considered where each player's total utility is the sum of local utilities obtained from the use of certain "facilities." All players using a facility obtain the same utility therefrom, which may depend on the identities of users and on their behavior. If a regularity condition is satisfied by every facility, then the game admits an exact potential; both congestion games and games with structured utilities are included in the class and satisfy that condition. Under additional assumptions the potential attains its maximum, which is a Nash equilibrium of the game.
    Keywords: Potential game; Congestion game; Game with structured utilities; Game of social interactions; Additive aggregation
    JEL: C72
    Date: 2016–05–31
  3. By: Serhiy Kandul (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena); Oliver Kirchkamp (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)
    Abstract: The aim of this study is to find out why people are telling the truth: is it a desire to respect trust, to avoid losses for others, or a mere distaste for lying per se? To answer this question we study a sender-receiver game where it is possible to delegate the act of lying and where it is possible to take pro-social actions in a subsequent dictator game. We examine how delegation affects the outcomes of people's current and future ethical decisions. We find that a non-trivial fraction of participants delegate their decision. However, delegation is associated with higher transfers in the subsequent dictator game
    Keywords: Sender-Receiver games, moral balancing, guilt aversion
    JEL: C72 D82
    Date: 2016–05–18
  4. By: Antonio Damasio (Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles); Hanna Damasio (Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
    Abstract: In its standard format, the concept of homeostasis refers to the ability, present in all living organisms, of continuously maintaining certain functional variables within a range of values compatible with survival. The mechanisms of homeostasis were originally conceived as strictly automatic and as pertaining only to the state of an organism’s internal environment. In keeping with this concept, homeostasis was, and still is, often explained by analogy to a thermostat: upon reaching a previously set temperature, the device commands itself to either suspend the ongoing operation (cooling or heating), or to initiate it, as appropriate. This traditional explanation fails to capture the richness of the concept and the range of circumstances in which it can be applied to living systems. Our goal here is to consider a more comprehensive view of homeostasis. This includes its application to systems in which the presence of conscious and deliberative minds, individually and in social groups, permits the creation of supplementary regulatory mechanisms aimed at achieving balanced and thus survivable life states but more prone to failure than the fully automated mechanisms. We suggest that an economy is an example of one such regulatory mechanism, and that facts regarding human homeostasis may be of value in the study of economic problems. Importantly, the reality of human homeostasis expands the views on preferences and rational choice that are part of traditionally conceived Homo economicus and casts doubts on economic models that depend only on an “invisible hand†mechanism.
    Keywords: Homeostasis; Economics; Consciousness
    Date: 2015–10
  5. By: Volker Britz (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: In non-cooperative bargaining games in the tradition of Rubinstein, the proposer derives bargaining power from the prospect of a costly delay which would follow the rejection of a proposal. We consider a unanimity bargaining game in which the proposer can strategically choose to prolong this delay. Prolonging the delay increases the proposer's bargaining power, but is assumed to come at a cost and thus cause an inefficiency. We use an appropriate refinement of stationary subgame-perfect equilibrium as the solution concept. We characterize equilibrium strategies and payoffs. We establish conditions on model parameters under which equilibrium is or is not efficient. For inefficient equilibria, we quantify the extent of the inefficiency. Moreover, we study the relation between the number of players and the degree of inefficiency. We find that inefficient equilibria become more inefficient the more players there are. Moreover, the parameter region in which an efficient equilibrium is possible shrinks when the number of players increases.
    Keywords: Bargaining, Surplus Destruction, Discount Factor, Timing
    JEL: C72 C78
    Date: 2016–05
  6. By: Gianpaolo Mariutti (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: This article connects economic growth and human learning in historical perspective. It does so by confronting figures for almost two centuries (1820-1990) of GDP per capita and formal learning (mainly literacy) for a group of countries (19) that are nowadays rich. In the last decades of this long period, the selected sample has been enlarged including also nowadays poor countries. Some regularities emerge from the empirical evidence. Human learning has become an essential factor of economic growth. It was not so at the beginning of the Industrial revolution, in the first decades of the XIX century. As time went by, it has moved from being a sufficient factor of economic growth, to a necessary factor of growth. This means that there no countries nowadays rich in income that were not before rich in literacy. The capital factor, by contrast, shows during the same time span a reverse pattern. Among other things this offers interesting hints to look critically and creatively at the theory of growth.
    Keywords: Economic Growth, Human learning, Literacy, Long run
    JEL: N10 I21 O47
    Date: 2015–12
  7. By: Dalton, Patricio (Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management); Ghosal, Sayantan
    Abstract: This paper incorporates self-fullling mistakes into an otherwise classical decision-making framework. A behavioural agent makes a mistake when he fails to internalize all the consequences of his actions on himself. We show that Sen's axioms and fully characterize choice data consistent with behavioral agents. These two axioms are weaker than Sen's axioms and that fully characterize rational agents. We oer a welfare benchmark that can be applied to existing behavioural economics models and show the conditions under which our welfare ranking can be used to infer welfare dominated (i.e. mistaken) choices using choice data alone.
    Date: 2016
  8. By: Anirban Chakraborti; Dhruv Raina; Kiran Sharma
    Abstract: In the light of contemporary discussions of inter and transdisciplinarity, this paper approaches econophysics and sociophysics to seek a response to the question -- whether these interdisciplinary fields could contribute to physics and economics. Drawing upon the literature on history and philosophy of science, the paper argues that the two way traffic between physics and economics has a long history and this is likely to continue in the future.
    Date: 2016–05

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