nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2019‒04‒08
fifteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Post-Truth: An Alumni Economist’s Perspective By Ben Fine
  2. Literature and Political Economy: An Invitation By Bichler, Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan
  3. The past and future of the social sciences. A Schumpeterian theory of scientific development? By Stefano Lucarelli; Alfonso Giuliani; Hervé Baron
  4. A critical realist knowledge production: Enhancing a Potential-oriented Approach By Mikael Stigendal; Andreas Novy
  5. Mobiliser les sciences de gestion pour réussir la transition écologique et sociale By P. Eynaud
  6. Everything I had wished to know about Walter Stöhr but I missed out By Frank Moulaert
  7. Decolonizing with data: The cliometric turn in African economic history By Johan Fourie; Nonso Obikili
  8. Contract law and Contract theory. A survey and some considerations By Daniel Danau
  9. Understanding International Financial Crises By Reyes, Danilo
  10. Comparative Economic Studies and Comparative Economics: Six Decades and Counting By Josef C. Brada; Paul Wachtel
  11. Of Ecosystems and Economies: Re-connecting Economics with Reality By Spash, Clive L.; Smith, Tone
  12. Tragedy of the Commons and Evolutionary Games in Social Networks: The Economics of Social Punishment By Marco, Jorge; Goetz, Renan
  13. Wedden om het einde van de wereld: de Simon-Ehrlich-weddenschap By van Dalen, Harry
  14. Thirty years of inflation targeting in New Zealand: The origins, evolution and influence of a monetary policy innovation. By Buckle, Robert A.
  15. "And forgive US our debts": Do christian moralities influence over-indebtedness of individuals? By Hasan, Iftekhar; Kiesel, Konstantin; Noth, Felix

  1. By: Ben Fine (Department of Economics, SOAS University of London, UK)
    Abstract: Drawing upon fifty years as an academic economist, this lecture to alumni of SOAS’s Department of Economics reflects upon the continual “post-truth†aspects of mainstream economics, ranging over its substantive, if shifting, content, its methodology, and its treatment of methodology and interdisciplinarity. It draws upon a wide range of theory, empirical analysis, policy and anecdote to highlight both the need for alternatives and the continuing, even increased, failure of the mainstream to engage with criticism and alternatives.
    Keywords: Heterodox economics, economics imperialism, pluralist economics
    JEL: B2 B4 B5
    Date: 2019–03
  2. By: Bichler, Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan
    Abstract: Most people think of science and literature as distinct human endeavours. According to received convention, science is mostly about ‘mind’, whereas literature is largely about ‘heart’. Science, goes the argument, is by and large rational, literature primarily emotional. Science is about thinking, literature about feeling. The practical implication of this duality is that many who consider themselves scientists – particularly in the so-called ‘social sciences’ and especially in ‘economics’ – pay little or no attention to belles-lettres. As far as they are concerned, fiction, poetry and drama are diversions from serious academic work. Occasionally, when going on vacation or to an academic conference, they’ll throw a few cheap thrills into their handbag for ‘relaxation’. They’ll use them instead of sleeping pills after they are done surfing their phones and zapping their telescreen’s channels. Now, it is true the that line between creative belles-lettres and capitalized cheap thrills has blurred in recent decades – so much so that it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart. And it is also true that as the number of new novels exploded, their average quality plummeted. But these shifting patterns are secondary. There is no need to read Leon Trotsky’s path-breaking book on Literature and Revolution (1925) or C.P. Snow’s warning on The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959) to realize that literature in general and novels in particular remain crucial for understanding – and occasionally affecting – the socio-scientific history of humanity.
    Keywords: bisociation,literature,political economy
    JEL: P16 Z1
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Stefano Lucarelli (UniBG - Università degli studi di Bergamo); Alfonso Giuliani (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne); Hervé Baron (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: The paper argues that Vergangenheit und Zukunft der Sozialwissenschaften (The Past and Future of the Social Sciences), a contribution not always well understood in the literature, is important to an understanding of Schumpeter's concept of development as applied to the field of the social sciences. To this end, it addresses three key questions. First, can the book be taken as a starting point to reconstruct a Schumpeterian theory of scientific development? Second, is Vergangenheit und Zukunft merely ‘a brief outline of what first became the Epochen [der Dogmen- und Methodengeschichte] and finally the History of Economic Analysis', as Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter wrote in her Editor's Introduction (July 1952) to the latter work (p. XXXII), or should it be read as a complement to Epochen and perhaps the History? Third, is the eminent Japanese scholar Shionoya right to claim that Schumpeter's work pursued the ambitious goal of developing a ‘comprehensive sociology'?
    Keywords: method,scientific development,Schumpeter,social sciences
    Date: 2019–03–10
  4. By: Mikael Stigendal; Andreas Novy
    Abstract: This article explores the implications of founding transdisciplinary collaborations of knowledge production in critical realism. We call such equal partnerships of researchers and practitioners knowledge alliances. Using the distinction between the referents that we refer to (what our research is about) and our references (our research about that), we show that practitioners can contribute to the process of knowledge production by providing access to referents and producing references but also by achieving relevance. Researchers and practitioners bring different types of knowledge. To become excellent, knowledge production should be organized in ways, which engage these different types in a constructive interplay. We call this approach potential-oriented, which we put in contrast to the empiricism of evidence-based research and policy-making. Our deliberate choice of the term potential-oriented reflects the shifts in philosophy suggested by critical realism, but also a sensitivity for how practitioners communicate and express themselves.
    Keywords: knowledge alliance, critical realism, transdisciplinarity, social cohesion, urban development
    Date: 2018
  5. By: P. Eynaud (IAE Paris - Sorbonne Business School)
    Abstract: Certains auteurs soulignent que l'économie rend compte d'une dépendance de l'Homme par rapport à la nature et à ses semblables. La question de la soutenabilité n'est pas simple à traiter car nous faisons face à un double péril : l'exploitation abusive des ressources naturelles met en danger l'équilibre du climat et de la biodiversité, et les inégalités croissantes condamnent notre capacité à faire société. Dans son livre « Insoutenables inégalités », le chercheur Lucas Chancel nous montre d'ailleurs clairement que les deux questions, sociale et environnementale, ne peuvent pas être dissociées. Face à de tels enjeux, les sciences de gestion peuvent grandement contribuer à l'affirmation d'une double solidarité : celle qui relie les hommes et la nature, et celle qui unit les hommes entre eux. Un tel effort ne se décrète pas. Il s'organise. Et c'est là que leur apport est déterminant. Il faut toutefois reconnaître que la solidarité n'est que peu prise en compte dans l'histoire de la pensée organisationnelle. On peut même affirmer qu'elle est négligée dans l'enseignement de la gestion, dont la pédagogie reste trop centrée sur le modèle de l'entreprise marchande et sur ses attendus. Pourquoi les manuels de gestion retiennent-ils de Smith le concept de « main invisible » et pas son attention à la question de la redistribution ? Et pourquoi ne jamais mentionner Tocqueville lorsqu'il répond à Smith en pointant l'apport des organisations démocratiques dans la richesse des nations ?
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Frank Moulaert
    Abstract: Frank Moulaert commemorating Walter Stöhr
    Date: 2018
  7. By: Johan Fourie (LEAP, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University); Nonso Obikili (LEAP, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: Our understanding of Africa's economic past -- the causes and consequences of precolonial polities, the slave trade, state formation, the Scramble for Africa, European settlement, and independence -- has improved markedly over the last two decades. Much of this is the result of the cliometric turn in African economic history, what some have called a `renaissance'. Whilst acknowledging that cliometrics is not new to African history, this chapter examines the major recent contributions, noting their methodological advances and dividing them into four broad themes: persistence of deep traits, slavery, colonialism and independence. We conclude with a brief bibliometric exercise, noting the lack of Africans working at the frontier of African cliometrics.
    Keywords: Africa, history, poverty, reversal of fortunes, sub-Saharan, trade, slavery, colonialism, missionaries, independence
    JEL: N01 N37 O10
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Daniel Danau (Normandie Univ, UNICAEN, CNRS, CREM, F-14000 Caen, France)
    Abstract: In this study we parallel Contract theory and Contract law and over a few considerations about the link between the two literatures. First, we highlight that studies in Contract theory can be classi ed in analyses of principal agent relation-ships and analyses of speci c investment problems, and that Contract law mainly focuses on the latter, in general. This leaves aside the analysis of the potential role of the law, for instance, in containing the contractual costs of asymmetric information. Second, we try and clarify under what legal rules the parties fully commit with the contract, or they do not, taking into account that the notions of full and limited commitment are very common in Contract theory whereas they are not in Contract law. This further allows us to provide a uni ed presentation of the literature, based on the features of the contractual environment: complete versus incomplete contracting, full versus limited commitment. Third, we point out that, unlike studies in Contract law, studies in Contract theory devote little attention to the litigation process. For this reason, there is no uni ed analysis of optimal contracts accounting for the transaction costs that appear in the various stages of a contractual relationship.
    Keywords: Contract law, Contract theory, Law and economics, Incomplete contracts
    JEL: D82 K12
    Date: 2019–03
  9. By: Reyes, Danilo
    Abstract: This review article presents an overview of the themes developed in the theoretical literature on international financial crises before the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. The directions that future research might take are discussed in conclusion.
    Keywords: Financial Crises
    JEL: G01
    Date: 2019–01
  10. By: Josef C. Brada; Paul Wachtel
    Date: 2018
  11. By: Spash, Clive L.; Smith, Tone
    Abstract: This discussion paper looks at the connections between economies and ecosystems, or more generally biophysical reality. The term "economies" is used, rather than "the economy", because of the prevalent false claim that there is only one type of economic system that is possible. We outline how the ecological crises is linked to the dominant drive for economic growth and the tendency to equate growth with progress and development; common even amongst those apparently critical of the need for continued growth in the materially rich countries. The unreality of mainstream economics is epitomised by the accolades given to those justifying mild reformist policy in response to human induced climate change in order to continue the pursuit of economic growth. We emphasise the structural aspects of economies as emergent from and dependent upon the structure and functioning of both society and ecology (energy and material flows). Finally, that the structure of the global economy must change to avoid social ecological collapse, poses the questions of how that can be achieved and what sort of economics is necessary? We explain the need for: (i) a structural change that addresses the currently dysfunctional relationships between economic, social and ecological systems, and (ii) an economics that is interdisciplinary and realist about its social and natural science relations.
    Keywords: growth, development, economics, ecosystems, thermodynamics, political economy, critical realism
    Date: 2019
  12. By: Marco, Jorge; Goetz, Renan
    Abstract: This study revisits the problem of the tragedy of the commons. Extracting agents participate in an evolutionary game in a complex social network and are subject to social pressure if they do not comply with the social norms. Social pressure depends on the dynamics of the resource, the network and the population of compliers. We analyze the influence the network structure has on the agents’ behavior and determine the economic value of the intangible good - social pressure. For a socially optimal management of the resource, an initially high share of compliers is necessary but is not sufficient. The analysis shows the extent to which the remaining level of the resource, the share of compliers and the size, density and local cohesiveness of the network contribute to overcoming the tragedy of the commons. The study suggests that the origin of the problem – shortsighted behavior - is also the starting point for a solution in the form of a one-time payment. A numerical analysis of a social network comprising 7500 agents and a realistic topological structure is performed using empirical data from the western La Mancha aquifer in Spain.
    Keywords: Research Methods/ Statistical Methods
    Date: 2017–07–13
  13. By: van Dalen, Harry (Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management)
    Abstract: Vandaag de dag worden we weer met doembeelden geconfronteerd over desastreuze milieuontwikkelingen als gevolg van overbevolking en leefstijl. Dat was in de jaren zeventig niet anders toen de ecoloog Paul Ehrlich hongersnood en natuurrampen voorspelde als de groei van de wereldbevolking niet snel zou stoppen. Een econoom – Julian Simon – geloofde niets van zijn doembeelden en ging een weddenschap met Ehrlich aan over de relatie tussen bevolkingsgroei en schaarste. Het zou een weddenschap worden die model stond voor de strijd tussen optimisten en pessimisten over de gevolgen van bevolkingsgroei.
    Date: 2019
  14. By: Buckle, Robert A.
    Abstract: Nearly thirty years ago New Zealand ushered in a revolutionary approach to monetary policy. This was formalised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989 which specified price stability as the primary function of monetary policy and provided operational independence for New Zealand’s central bank. This innovation spawned the spread of more central banks around the world with a mandate to prioritise inflation targeting. This paper explains the historical origins of the RBNZ Act, its design and the ideas that influenced its design. It reviews how the practice of inflation targeting and the choice of policy instruments have evolved. The paper includes a review of research evaluating the impact of inflation targeting in New Zealand and concludes with a discussion of contemporary issues including a proposal before the New Zealand Parliament to introduce significant changes to the Act which could have important implications for future monetary policy.
    Keywords: Monetary policy, Inflation targeting, Central bank governance,, Accountability, Transparency, Credibility, Sustainability,
    Date: 2018
  15. By: Hasan, Iftekhar; Kiesel, Konstantin; Noth, Felix
    Abstract: This paper analyses whether Christian moralities and rules formed differently by Catholics and Protestants impact the likelihood of households to become overindebted. We find that over-indebtedness is lower in regions in which Catholics outweigh Protestants, indicating that Catholics' forgiveness culture and a stricter enforcement of rules by Protestants serve as explanations for our results. Our results provide evidence that religion affects the financial situations of individuals and show that even 500 years after the split between Catholics and Protestants, the differences in the mind-sets of both denominations play an important role for situations of severe financial conditions.
    Keywords: over-indebtedness,religion,forgiveness,enforcement
    JEL: D12 G11 Z12
    Date: 2019

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