nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2020‒06‒08
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Amartya Sen, social theorizing and contemporary India By Gasper, D.R.
  2. Guilt Aversion in (New) Games: the Role of Vulnerability By Giuseppe Attanasi; Claire Rimbaud; Marie-Claire Villeval
  3. Exhaustible resources and classical theory By Bidard, Christian; Erreygers, Guido
  4. Deliberation Enhances the Confirmation Bias: An Examination of Politics and Religion By Dickinson, David L.
  5. Research Registries: Facts, Myths, and Possible Improvements By Eliot Abrams; Jonathan Libgober; John List
  6. Positive framing does not solve the tragedy of the commons By Isaksen, Elisabeth Thuestad; Brekke, Kjell Arne; Richter, Andries
  7. Implementing stakeholder participation as “egalitarian bidding” – The test of the Kantian pudding is in the institutionalized eating By Federica Alberti; Werner Güth; Hartmut Kliemt; Kei Tsutsui
  8. Schumpeter in Vienna: A Study Abroad Course By Dalton, John; Logan, Andrew
  9. When Economists Dealt with the Agrarian Question—Back to a French Episode (1970-1980) By Thierry Pouch

  1. By: Gasper, D.R.
    Abstract: The work of economist and philosopher Amartya Sen (1933-) has attracted attention in other fields too, including in political science, human geography, planning, health and social policy, and, to a lesser but growing extent, in sociology and occasionally anthropology. This paper, written as part of a project on Indian social theorists, discusses Sen’s relation to social theorizing. While he is not a ‘social theorist’ in the sense recognized in sociology and anthropology, being grounded instead in the earlier perspectives of Adam Smith, Condorcet and J.S. Mill, much of his work, both theoretical and empirical, proves of interest to a wide range of social scientists. The paper’s first main part outlines his contributions as a social analyst, under four connected headings: (1) theorization on how people reason as agents within society; (2) ‘entitlements analysis’ of the social determinants of people’s access or lack of access to goods; (3) theorizing the effective freedoms and agency that people enjoy or lack, in his ‘capability approach’ (CA); (4) treatments of societal membership, identity and political life, including a liberal theory of personal identity and a strong advocacy of and high expectations for ‘voice’ and deliberative democracy. The second part characterizes Sen’s intellectual style, marked by systematic conceptual refinement, associated emphases on complexity, heterogeneity, and individuality, including personal individuality, and a reformist optimism. The third part treats his relation to ‘social theory’ as considered by sociologists, including the connections, contributions and possible blind spots: in his attention to work by sociologists, in his system for theorizing human action in society, in treatment of power structures and capitalism, and in his optimistic programmatic conception of personhood that stresses the freedom to make a reasoned composition of personal identity. The final substantial part discusses his preoccupation with public reasoning and democracy, and the focus on an arguably idealized version of the former and relative neglect of the sociology of the latter. It contrasts the ideal of a reasoning polity with features and trends in independent India. Nevertheless, Sen’s programmes or critical autonomy in personhood and for reasoned politics carry significant normative force, and his analytical formats can help not only structured evaluation but investigation of obstacles to more widespread agency, voice and democratic participation.
    Keywords: capability approach, democracy, freedom, identity, public reasoning
    Date: 2020–05–13
  2. By: Giuseppe Attanasi (Université Côte d'Azur; CNRS, GREDEG, France); Claire Rimbaud (Université Lyon 2; GATE CNRS); Marie-Claire Villeval (Université Lyon 2; GATE CNRS)
    Abstract: From the literature we know that contextual factors modulate guilt aversion, such as pre-play communication and social closeness. In this study, we investigate whether a particular feature of the game itself = the vulnerability of the co-players = affects a player's guilt aversion. We deem that a co-player is (i) ex-post vulnerable when her final payoff depends on the decision-maker's actions, and (ii) ex-ante vulnerable when the use of her initial endowment depends on the decision-maker's actions. In a laboratory experiment, we introduce four (new) three-player trust games played within-subjects, varying whether the trustees can condition their decision on the belief of another player who is ex-post vulnerable and/or ex-ante vulnerable. We put forward a portable model of lexicographic altruism and role-dependent guilt, where the trustee can only be altruistic toward the most disadvantaged player and can feel guilty simply because of his role in the game. We find that trustees' guilt aversion is insensitive to the opponents' vulnerability and to the role of the vulnerable player.
    Keywords: Guilt aversion, vulnerability, psychological game theory, experiment
    JEL: C72 C91 D91
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Bidard, Christian (EconomiX, Université Paris Nanterre); Erreygers, Guido (Department of Economics, University of Antwerp)
    Abstract: Smith, Ricardo, Marx and Sraffa made no theoretical distinction between exhaustible resources and lands. The very notion of exhaustibility, however, can be opposed to that of ‘indestructible powers of the soil’ (Ricardo) and calls for a specific analysis distinct from that of rent. The diversity of the contemporary attempts to deal with that question in a classical framework shows how varied are the understandings of the main methodological features of classical theory. Three crucial points emerge: first, the treatment of prices, which are invariant in classical theory but, according to the Hotelling rule, are changing through time for exhaustible resources; second, the notion and the measure of the rate of profits; and, third, the relationship between economic analysis and a more historical and sociological approach stressing the balances of power between classes. Our own approach starts from a very simple model, called the corn-guano model, where guano is the exhaustible resource, and examines the dynamics of such an economy on the physical side and the value side. These lessons serve as a basis for an extension to multisector models. We provide a critical assessment of a few alternative approaches developed by Sraffian scholars.
    Keywords: exhaustible resources; classical theory; Hotelling rule; Sraffian approach
    JEL: B24 Q32
    Date: 2020–05–26
  4. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: Existing research has documented the confirmation bias in the domain of politics, but relatively little research has examined the confirmation bias in religion. I developed a novel task in the religious domain and compare confirmation bias evidence to that observed in the political domain. Using a preregistered data collection and analysis plan, I examined data from n=402 participants prescreened by political and religious beliefs. Participants were administered the online task that examined selective information exposure and perceived strength of arguments that are incongruent to one's own beliefs regarding "gun control" and the "existence of God". Results documented a confirmation bias in both information exposure and perceived argument strength. I also examined the hypothesis that the confirmation bias is stronger in situations where more thought or deliberation is brought to bear on the task. The evidence here depends on the measure of deliberation used, but generally supports this hypothesis. For example, the data showed that individuals who have thought a lot about the topic at hand (gun control and the existence of God) displayed a stronger confirmation bias in perceived argument strength than those having thought less about the issue. This paper contributes by offering new evidence documenting the confirmation bias directly compared across domains. And, the findings regarding how deliberation may worsen the bias are in line with previous research suggesting the confirmation bias may be unlike other decision biases — this bias may thrive when the decision maker is more is more deliberative or thoughtful.
    Keywords: confirmation bias, decision bias, politics, religion, behavioral economics
    JEL: D91 C9 Z1
    Date: 2020–05
  5. By: Eliot Abrams; Jonathan Libgober; John List
    Abstract: The past few decades have ushered in an experimental revolution in economics whereby scholars are now much more likely to generate their own data. While there are virtues associated with this movement, there are concomitant difficulties. Several scientific disciplines, including economics, have launched research registries in an effort to attenuate key inferential issues. This study assesses registries both empirically and theoretically, with a special focus on the AEA registry. We find that over 90% of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in economics do not register, only 50% of the RCTs that register do so before the intervention begins, and the majority of these preregistrations are not detailed enough to significantly aid inference. Our empirical analysis further shows that using other scientific registries as aspirational examples is misguided, as their perceived success in tackling the main issues is largely a myth. In light of these facts, we advance a simple economic model to explore potential improvements. A key insight from the model is that removal of the (current) option to register completed RCTs could increase the fraction of trials that register. We also argue that linking IRB applications to registrations could further increase registry effectiveness.
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Isaksen, Elisabeth Thuestad; Brekke, Kjell Arne; Richter, Andries
    Abstract: We investigate whether positive framing increases cooperation in three social dilemmas with slightly different properties: a linear public goods (PG) game, a non-linear PG game, and a common pool resource (CPR) game. Results from our laboratory experiments show that contributions to a linear PG are higher if the externality is framed positively, rather than negatively, corroborating earlier findings by Andreoni (1995). By contrast, we find no such framing effects in the non-linear PG game or the CPR game. In these games, the best response in the material payoffs is to contribute less if others contribute more, counteracting effects of pro-social preferences. Positive framing therefore does not help to solve the tragedy of the commons.
    JEL: C72 C92 D70
    Date: 2019–05–01
  7. By: Federica Alberti (University of Portsmouth); Werner Güth (LUISS Guido Carli and Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); Hartmut Kliemt (Justus-Liebig-Universitaet Giessen); Kei Tsutsui (University of Bath)
    Abstract: Stakeholder conceptions of corporate governance tend to address managers and owners of companies as benevolent despots who follow ethical appeals to respect all stakeholders equally. Avoiding the benevolent despot assumption we axiomatically specify how “stakeholder participation as ‘egalitarian bidding’ ” could conceivably be used to implement the values underlying stakeholder conceptions as procedures of corporate governance. We do not claim that stakeholder theorists have to concur with our proposed operationalization of their ideals. Yet those who do not accept participatory ‘egalitarian bidding’ should come up with some alternative operationalization of “equal (Kantian) respect” or admit that their theories are non-operational.
    Keywords: Stakeholder conceptions of management, interpersonal equal respect, corporate governance, intrinsic motivation, procedural fairness
    JEL: D44 D63 D82 G34 J50
    Date: 2020–05–18
  8. By: Dalton, John; Logan, Andrew
    Abstract: This paper builds upon the work of Dalton and Logan (forthcoming a) by describing the motivation for and mechanics of teaching a course dedicated to Schumpeter as a study abroad program in the city of Vienna. We argue that the qualities Vienna possesses, both historical and contemporary, make a good laboratory for exploring Schumpeter's ideas and that the process of encountering a new culture through a study abroad course is the best way to internalize his theory of innovation. To do so, our paper first outlines the course content before describing the linkages between "techno-romantic" Vienna and Schumpeter's intellectual development. We then describe specific examples for how instructors can use Vienna as a laboratory for teaching Schumpeter's ideas. We close by sharing preparatory details for instructors and offering the perspective of a student who took this course in the summer of 2018.
    Keywords: Joseph Schumpeter; Vienna; Innovation; Entrepreneurship; Creative Destruction; Study Abroad; Education
    JEL: A20 B30 O31 O33 P00
    Date: 2020–05–13
  9. By: Thierry Pouch (REGARDS - Recherches en Économie Gestion AgroRessources Durabilité Santé- EA 6292 - URCA - Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne)
    Date: 2020–03–01

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