nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2021‒04‒19
eight papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Symbiotics > Economics? By Benno Torgler
  2. Great Expectations. Hicks on Expectations from Theory of Wages (1932) to Value and Capital (1939) By Jean-Sébastien Lenfant
  3. Marx's Equalized Rate of Exploitation By Jonathan F. Cogliano
  4. The "View from Manywhere": Normative Economics with Context-Dependent Preferences By Guilhem Lecouteux; Ivan Mitrouchev
  5. History as heresy: unlearning the lessons of economic orthodoxy By O'Sullivan, Mary
  6. I win it's fair, you win it's not. Selective heeding of merit in ambiguous settings By Serhiy Kandul; Olexandr Nikolaychuk
  7. Capitalism: Worries of the 1930s for the 2020s By Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
  8. Homophily, Peer Effects, and Dishonesty By Liza Charroin; Bernard Fortin; Marie Claire Villeval

  1. By: Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This paper begins with a discussion on James Buchanan’s suggestion to replace the word “economics” with “symbiotics”, viewing human behavior through the window of exchange rather than choice. Although our current textbooks – such as those by Daron Acemoglu, David Laibson, and John A. List (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics) – tend to over-emphasize choice rather than exchange, a look at documents published in Scopus during the past 70 years indicates that exchange is equally well represented throughout those years. More fundamentally, words such as choice or exchange are kind of “suitcase-like” words that conceal the complexity of very different things and concepts whose relationship we often do not sufficiently discuss or comprehend. As Richard Feynman, Marvin Minsky, and Aaron Sloman remind us, there is a difference between the name of a thing and what actually goes on. To make this point, the paper looks at the mechanism and machinery of decision-making to highlight that mechanisms can be programmed; in the process, reviving old AI ideas such as the General Problem Solver developed by Allen Newell, Clifford Shaw, and Herbert Simon, or Marvin Minsky’s “Prediction Machine”. The paper finishes by discussing not only the benefits of viewing an economic system through the lens of exchange, and therefore mutual aid, reciprocity, and redistribution, but also by emphasizing – as Kenneth Boulding has shown us – that social life is full of one-way transfers which are essential to a deeper understanding of our political economy and non-market machinery.
    Date: 2021–04
  2. By: Jean-Sébastien Lenfant (CLERSE - Centre Lillois d’Études et de Recherches Sociologiques et Économiques - UMR 8019 - Université de Lille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The article is intended as an in-depth study of the development and role of expectations within John R. Hicks' representation of the functioning of a capitalist economy. It covers his contributions to economic theory in the 1930s, with a particular focus on Value and Capital. The question underlying the study is whether Hicks develops a theory of expectations. We argue that there are several elements of such a theory in Hicks's work, though what is most important to him is the historical dynamic generated by heterogeneity of expectations.
    Abstract: L'article explore en détail le développement et le rôle des anticipations dans la représentation du fonctionnement d'une économie capitaliste selon John Hicks. Il couvre ses contributions à la théorie économique dans les années, 1930, avec un accent sur Valeur et Capitali. La question posée est de savoir si Hicks propose une théorie des anticipations. Nous soutenons qu'il y a plusieurs éléments d'une telle théorie dans les écrits de Hicks, mais que ce qui est le plus important pour lui est la dynamique historique générée par l'hétérogénéité des anticipations.
    Keywords: Hicks (john Richard),expectations,temporary equilibrium,stability,cycles Hicks (John Richard),anticipations,équilibre temporaire,stabilité,cycles
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Jonathan F. Cogliano
    Abstract: Marx assumes a uniform rate of exploitation throughout Capital, yet the theoretical basis for this assumption and its role in his theory of value are not well understood in the existing literature. This paper shows that Marx assumed a tendentially equalized rate of exploitation to be the outcome of labor mobility, and that he viewed this as a general tendency of capitalist economies. Marx draws extensively on Adam Smith to support his views on labor mobility and the equalized rate of exploitation. The close connection between Smith and Marx on notions of labor mobility is examined here. Understanding the role of labor mobility and the equalized rate of exploitation in Marx’s work holds implications for contemporary approaches to classical-Marxian price and value theory and supports the view that Marx’s theory of value is, in the most general sense, a theory of the allocation of social labor.
    Keywords: Adam Smith; Karl Marx; Labor Mobility; Long-Period Method; Rate of Exploitation.
    JEL: B14 B24 B51 C67 D46 D51
    Date: 2021–04
  4. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (Université Côte d'Azur; GREDEG CNRS); Ivan Mitrouchev (Univ Lyon, UJM Saint-Etienne, GATE, France; Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, REGARDS, France)
    Abstract: We propose a methodology for behavioural normative economics based on a precise characterisation of context-dependence. The key feature of our proposal is to locate normative authority, not in the synoptic and third-person judgement of the social planner ("view from nowhere"), nor in the first-person judgement of the individual ("view from somewhere"), but in the second-person ability of the individual to confront conflicting judgements across contexts ("view from manywhere"). We offer a definition of the "context" in behavioural normative economics, propose a critical review of the related literature, and then advance our own proposal. We formulate a normative criterion of "self-determination" and justify it with two complementary approaches, interpreting the "view from manywhere" either as an extension of Sugden's opportunity criterion, or as an application of Sen's "positional views" in his theory of justice to behavioural normative economics.
    Keywords: normative economics, social planner, context-dependent preferences, behavioural public policy, second-person standpoint
    JEL: B41 D63 D90 I31
    Date: 2021–04
  5. By: O'Sullivan, Mary
    Abstract: In spring 2020, in the face of the covid-19 pandemic, central bankers in rich countries made unprecedented liquidity injections to stave off an economic crisis. Such radical action by central banks gained legitimacy during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and enjoys strong support from prominent economists and economic historians. Their certainty reflects a remarkable agreement on a specific interpretation of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States, an interpretation developed by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz in A Monetary History of the United States (1963). In this article, I explore the origins, the influence and the limits of A Monetary History’s interpretation for the insights it offers on the relationship between theory and history in the study of economic life. I show how historical research has been mobilised to show the value of heretical ideas in order to challenge economic orthodoxies. Friedman and Schwartz understood the heretical potential of historical research and exploited it in A Monetary History to question dominant interpretations of the Great Depression in their time. Now that their interpretation has become our orthodoxy, I show how we can develop the fertile link between history and heresy to better understand our economic past.
    JEL: N0 N1 N2 B3 B4 B5
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Serhiy Kandul (Digital Society Initiative, University of Zurich, Switzerland); Olexandr Nikolaychuk (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)
    Abstract: One's willingness to accept an outcome or even to correct it depends on whether or not the underlying procedure is deemed legitimate. We manipulate the role allocation procedure in the dictator game to illustrate that this belief is not independent of the outcome and is self-serving in its nature. Our findings suggest that there may be some positive level of dissatisfaction with virtually any social outcome in the populace without there being anything wrong as far as the underlying procedure. We also discuss the perceptions of fairness and merit as potential drivers of the observed behavioral phenomenon.
    Keywords: fairness, entitlement, merit, redistribution, procedural preferences, dictator game
    JEL: D63 D91
    Date: 2021–01–25
  7. By: Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke (Division of Social Science)
    Abstract: There is a whiff of the 1930s about the title of this special issue. Then as now, intellectuals denounced the ills produced by capitalism, defended it, pondered how to reform it, worried that it would collapse, or looked forward to the day when it would. Many of the debates of that time echo strongly now, with similar arguments being made on both sides of more than one issue. To what extent do these intellectual debates, and the economic history which produced them, speak to our current predicament?
    Date: 2021–04
  8. By: Liza Charroin; Bernard Fortin; Marie Claire Villeval
    Abstract: If individuals tend to behave like their peers, is it because of conformity, that is, the preference of people to align behavior with the behavior of their peers; homophily, that is, the tendency of people to bond with similar others; or both? We address this question in the context of an ethical dilemma. Using a peer effect model allowing for homophily, we designed a real-effort laboratory experiment in which individuals could misreport their performance to earn more. Our results reveal a preference for conformity and for homophily in the selection of peers, but only among participants who were cheating in isolation. The size of peer effects is similar when identical peers were randomly assigned and when they were selected by individuals. We thus jointly reject the presence of a self-selection bias in the peer effect estimates and of a link strength effect.
    Keywords: , Peer Effects,Homophily,Dishonesty,Self-Selection Bias,Experiment
    JEL: C92 D83 D85 D91
    Date: 2021–04–01

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