nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2021‒02‒15
eleven papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Marxisme et théorie néoclassique. La reconstruction incertaine de John Roemer By Fabien Tarrit
  2. The Conservative Legacy of Neoliberalism By Martin Beddeleem; Nathanael Colin-Jaeger
  3. Jan Tinbergen's early contribution to macrodynamics (1932-1936): multiple equilibria, complete collapse and the Great Depression By Michaël Assous; Vincent Carret
  4. Is the Capability approach a useful tool for decision aiding in public policy making? By Nicolas Fayard; Chabane Mazri; Alexis Tsouki\`as
  5. Kirzner and Rothbard on an Austrian theory of entrepreneurship: the heirs of both Menger and Mises discuss action and the role of institutions By Gilles Campagnolo; Christel Vivel
  6. A Call for Structured Ethics Appendices in Social Science Papers By Edward Asiedu; Dean Karlan; Monica P. Lambon-Quayefio; Christopher R. Udry
  7. A new puzzle in the social evaluation of risk By Marc Fleurbaey; Stéphane Zuber
  8. A Contextualist Decision Theory By Saleh Afroogh
  9. On the Independence of the Event in the Context of Intergenerational Justice By Yoshiki Wakamatsu; Koichi Suga
  10. The Behavioral Economics of Intrapersonal Conflict: A Critical Assessment By Sebastian Kr\"ugel; Matthias Uhl
  11. Public Economics and Inequality: Uncovering Our Social Nature By Emmanuel Saez

  1. By: Fabien Tarrit (REGARDS - Recherches en Économie Gestion AgroRessources Durabilité Santé- EA 6292 - URCA - Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne - MSH-URCA - Maison des Sciences Humaines de Champagne-Ardenne - URCA - Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne)
    Abstract: Can Marx's economic thought be reconstructed from neoclassical economics? This is the question John Roemer tried to answer. He was a major actor of Analytical Marxism – especially of Rational Choice Marxism –, mainly during the 1980s. The founding objective of this school of thought has been to reach conclusions that are close to Marx's in using different methodological tools. Roemer's research program is based on the neoclassical theory. We shall discuss the consistency and the relevance of this approach through a critical examination. We wonder either what is questioned is Marx's theory or the possibility to associate it to the tools of the neoclassical theory.
    Abstract: Peut-on reconstruire sans la trahir la pensée économique de Marx à partir de la théorie néoclassique ? C'est la question à laquelle a tenté de répondre John Roemer. Il fut l'un des principaux contributeurs du marxisme analytique-plus précisément du marxisme de choix rationnel-, principalement au cours des années 1980. L'objectif fondateur de ce courant a été de parvenir à des conclusions proches de celles de Marx en utilisant des outils méthodologiques différents. Le programme de recherche de Roemer se fonde sur la théorie néoclassique. Nous discutons, d'un point de vue critique, la cohérence et la pertinence de cette approche. Nous nous demandons si ce qui est remis en cause est la théorie de Marx ou la possibilité de l'associer aux outils de la théorie néoclassique.
    Keywords: labour value,historical materialism,Marx,valeur-travail,profit,exploitation,matérialisme historique
    Date: 2020–12–01
  2. By: Martin Beddeleem (Aarhus University [Aarhus]); Nathanael Colin-Jaeger (TRIANGLE - Triangle : action, discours, pensée politique et économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - IEP Lyon - Sciences Po Lyon - Institut d'études politiques de Lyon - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The 1930s and 1940s marked a period of crisis for liberalism. Authors as diverse as Hayek, Röpke, Lippmann, Polanyi and Rougier came together at two founding events, the Walter Lippmann Colloquium in 1938 and the creation of the Mont-Pèlerin Society in 1947, to rethink liberalism. This rethinking of the liberal project led them to establish a diagnosis of the crisis of liberalism, which, for the authors mentioned, goes back to the French Revolution. This article proposes to show the coherence of the neoliberal project from their historical diagnosis in this period of crisis. Indeed, by criticizing the French Revolution and its effects as part of a harmful rationalism, which gave rise to both laissez-faire and various collectivisms, neoliberals explicitly take up concepts from critics of the revolution, especially Edmund Burke. The concept of tradition, understood as covering social and legal rules that have slowly evolved to constitute coordination mechanisms that allow our actions, is thus very largely taken up and valued by neoliberals. We thus interpret neoliberal theory on the basis of this recategorization of the concept of tradition, and point out the affinities of neoliberal positions with philosophical conservatism. This rapprochement reveals several conceptual tensions between cultural evolutionism on the one hand and the defence of substantial Western values on the other.
    Abstract: Les années 1930 et 1940 marquent une période de crise pour le libéralisme. Des auteurs aussi divers que Hayek, Röpke, Lippmann ou encore Polanyi et Rougier se réunissent, lors de deux événements fondateurs, le Colloque Walter Lippmann en 1938 et la création de la Société du Mont Pèlerin en 1947, pour repenser le libéralisme. Cette refonte du projet libéral les pousse à établir un diagnostic relatif à la crise du libéralisme, remontant, pour les auteurs mentionnés, à la Révolution Française. Cet article se propose de montrer la cohérence du projet néolibéral à partir de leur diagnostic historique dans cette période de crise. En effet en critiquant la Révolution Française et ses effets comme participant d'un rationalisme néfaste, ayant donné naissance aussi bien au laissez-faire qu'aux divers collectivismes, les néolibéraux reprennent explicitement des concepts des critiques de la révolution, au premier rang desquels Edmund Burke. Le concept de tradition, compris comme recouvrant des règles sociales et juridiques ayant lentement évoluées de façon à constituer des dispositifs de coordination permettant nos actions, est ainsi très largement repris et valorisé par les néolibéraux. Nous interprétons ainsi la théorie néolibérale à partir de cette recatégorisation du concept de tradition, et pointons les affinités des positions néolibérales avec le conservatisme philosophique. Ce rapprochement fait apparaître plusieurs tensions conceptuelles entre d'une part un évolutionnisme culturel et d'autre part la défense de valeurs occidentales substantielles.
    Keywords: Néoliberalisme,Conservatisme,tradition,Hayek,Röpke
    Date: 2021–01
  3. By: Michaël Assous (TRIANGLE - Triangle : action, discours, pensée politique et économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - IEP Lyon - Sciences Po Lyon - Institut d'études politiques de Lyon - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Vincent Carret (TRIANGLE - Triangle : action, discours, pensée politique et économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - IEP Lyon - Sciences Po Lyon - Institut d'études politiques de Lyon - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2)
    Abstract: In 1932, Jan Tinbergen proposed an explanation of the Great Depression based on a specific treatment of unstable processes and multiple equilibria. While he outlined a possible mechanism based on a specific treatment of firms' interactions, this first explanation was later abandoned in favor of more dynamic mechanisms, but he did not cast aside the idea of multiple equilibria and instability. After his involvement in the early meetings of the econometric society, he started working on different dynamic models that would account for this instability. In 1934, Tinbergen built a model to generate new types of economic movements that did not return to an equilibrium. This led him in 1936 to consider the possibility of having two equilibria, one stable, one unstable, with damped or self-sustained cycles around the high equilibrium and a collapse once the economy reaches the low equilibrium. Tinbergen saw these models, with reference to Fisher's 1933 classic Econometrica paper, as a way to interpret the potential of a crisis to trigger the collapse of the economy. At the end of the day, it turns out that Tinbergen managed to open a new avenue of research which, strikingly, remains almost totally ignored in most history of macroeconomics and econometrics.
    Keywords: Jan Tinbergen,Great Depression
    Date: 2020–12–23
  4. By: Nicolas Fayard; Chabane Mazri; Alexis Tsouki\`as
    Abstract: This paper aims at proposing a model representing individuals' welfare using Sen's capability approach (CA). It is the first step of an attempt to measure the negative impact caused by the damage at a Common on a given population's welfare, and widely speaking, a first step into modelling collective threat. The CA is a multidimensional representation of persons' well-beings which account for human diversity. It has received substantial attention from scholars from different disciplines such as philosophy, economics and social scientist. Nevertheless, there is no empirical work that really fits the theoretical framework. Our goal is to show that the capability approach can be very useful for decision aiding, especially if we fill the gap between the theory and the empirical work; thus we will propose a framework that is both usable and a close representation of what capability is.
    Date: 2021–01
  5. By: Gilles Campagnolo (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Christel Vivel (ESDES - École de management de Lyon - Université Catholique de Lyon)
    Abstract: This paper is the last part of a trilogy on the theory and history of entrepreneurship in Austrian school of economics. The triptych ends with contemporary members by comparing Israel Kirzner and Murray Rothbard. The migration of the Austrian school induced a new assessment of Austrian traits in a new setting. While we do not focus on the history of the Austrian school in America as such, we will stress how Kirzner focused his view of entrepreneurship on the concepts of alertness, discovery by opportunity and the equilibrating action of the entrepreneur – while Rothbard's contribution was more ideologically engaged.
    Keywords: methodology,institutions,Kirzner (Israel),Austrian School of Economics,entrepreneurship,Rothbard (Murray).
    Date: 2020–12
  6. By: Edward Asiedu; Dean Karlan; Monica P. Lambon-Quayefio; Christopher R. Udry
    Abstract: Ethics in social science experimentation and data collection are often discussed but rarely articulated in writing as part of research outputs. Although papers typically reference human subjects research approvals from relevant institutional review boards, most recognize that such boards are not comprehensive ethical assessments. We propose a structured ethics appendix to provide details on the following: policy equipoise, role of the researcher, potential harms to participants and nonparticipants, conflicts of interest, intellectual freedom, feedback to participants, and foreseeable misuse of research results. We discuss each of these, and some of the norms and challenging situations of each. We believe that discussing such issues explicitly in appendices of papers, even if briefly, will serve two purposes: more complete communication of ethics can improve discussions of papers and can clarify and improve the norms themselves.
    JEL: C81 C83 C9 J01 O12
    Date: 2021–01
  7. By: Marc Fleurbaey (Paris School of Economics); Stéphane Zuber (Paris School of Economics, Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne)
    Abstract: We highlight a new paradox for the social evaluation of risk that bears on the evaluation of individual well-being rather than social welfare, but has serious implications for social evaluation. The paradox consists in a tension between rationality, respect for individual preferences, and a principle of informational parsimony that excludes individual risk attitudes from the assessment of riskless situations. No social evaluation criteria can satisfy these three principles. This impossibility result has implications for the evaluation of social welfare under risk, especially when the preferences of some individuals are not known. It generalizes existing impossibility results, while relying on very weak principles of social rationality and respect for individual preferences. We explore the possibilities opened by weakening one of our three principles and discuss the advantages and drawbacks of these different routes
    Keywords: social welfare; risk; social rationality; Pareto; fairness
    JEL: D63 D81
    Date: 2020–11
  8. By: Saleh Afroogh
    Abstract: Decision theorists propose a normative theory of rational choice. Traditionally, they assume that they should provide some constant and invariant principles as criteria for rational decisions, and indirectly, for agents. They seek a decision theory that invaribably works for all agents all the time. They believe that a rational agent should follow a certain principle, perhaps the principle of maximizing expected utility everywhere, all the time. As a result of the given context, these principles are considered, in this sense, context-independent. Furthermore, decision theorists usually assume that the relevant agents at work are ideal agents, and they believe that non-ideal agents should follow them so that their decisions qualify as rational. These principles are universal rules. I will refer to this context-independent and universal approach in traditional decision theory as Invariantism. This approach is, implicitly or explicitly, adopted by theories which are proposed on the basis of these two assumptions.
    Date: 2021–01
  9. By: Yoshiki Wakamatsu (Gakushuin University); Koichi Suga (Waseda University)
    Abstract: How should we, the present generation deal with the interests and harms of the future generations? Considering remoteness in time has, in itself, "no more significance than remoteness in space" (Parfit 1984:357), what Cass Sunstein calls "The Principle of Intergenerational Neutrality"(PIN) will provide a good starting point. There is an extensive debate on whether using the social discount rate is against PIN. However using the social discount rate is not the only unfair way of dealing with the interests of the future generation. Even without making any use of the social discount rate, the present generation would behave in an unfair way, in some cases, by assuming the independence of the event, which is the standard assumption in the probability theory. In this paper, we will show how this happens by considering two lotteries, the freedom lottery and the survival lottery. Before revealing the results, we must address two perplexing problems concerning future generations. First, who are the people who comprises the future? The identities of the future generations, as D. Parfit (1984) suggests, will change depending upon the policies we, the present generations, choose (Non-Identity Problem). Second, what are the preferences of the future generations? Because they have not formed any yet, we cannot make use of their preferences as a basis for our decision (Non-Preference Problem). To determine their identity, we treat future generations not as individuals but as species or groups. Instead of individual preferences, we will use freedom and survival as the benchmark of interests for the species. We will then examine two kinds of lotteries: the freedom lottery and the survival lottery. In these lotteries, the independence of the event does not hold, that is, the probabilities of becoming unfree or being extinguished greatly vary from generation to generation. The later a generation's turn to draw the lot, the higher the probability of becoming unfree or extinguished. As this disparity of these probabilities among generations shows, we, as the present generation that draws the lot first and is in the most advantageous position, have a special responsibility toward future generations.
    Date: 2019–04
  10. By: Sebastian Kr\"ugel; Matthias Uhl
    Abstract: Preferences often change -- even in short time intervals -- due to either the mere passage of time (present-biased preferences) or changes in environmental conditions (state-dependent preferences). On the basis of the empirical findings in the context of state-dependent preferences, we critically discuss the Aristotelian view of unitary decision makers in economics and urge a more Heraclitean perspective on human decision-making. We illustrate that the conceptualization of preferences as present-biased or state-dependent has very different normative implications under the Aristotelian view, although both concepts are empirically hard to distinguish. This is highly problematic, as it renders almost any paternalistic intervention justifiable.
    Date: 2021–01
  11. By: Emmanuel Saez
    Abstract: This paper argues that the social nature of humans, absent from the standard economic model, is crucial to understand our large modern social states and why concerns about inequality are so pervasive. A social solution arises when a situation is resolved at the group level (rather than the individual level) through cooperation and fair distribution of the resulting surplus. In human societies, childcare and education for the young, retirement benefits for the old, health care for the sick, and income support for those in need, is resolved at the social level, and through the social state in advanced economies. Social situations are pervasive even outside government and play a significant role in the distribution of pre-tax market incomes.
    JEL: H0
    Date: 2021–01

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