nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2022‒01‒10
eleven papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Economics as a Normative Discipline: Value Disentanglement in an 'Objective' Economics By Davis, John B.
  2. Faith in Science: What Can We Learn from Michael Polanyi? By Agnès Festré; Stein Østbye
  3. Book Review: Capital as Power By Lynch, Owen
  4. Categorical versus graded beliefs By Franz Dietrich
  5. Theoretical Economics and the Second-Order Economic Theory. What is it? By Olkhov, Victor
  6. Growth theory and the growth model perspective: Insights from the supermultiplier By Guilherme Spinato Morlin; Nikolas Passos; Riccardo Pariboni
  7. Léon Dupriez and the 1953 International Economic Association Conference on Economic Progress By Alain Raybaut
  8. Safeguarding Research: A Review of Economics Journals’ Preservation Policies for Published Code and Data Files By Courtney Butler; Brett Currier; Kira Lillard
  9. The Reproducibility of Economics Research: A Case Study By Sylvérie Herbert; Hautahi Kingi; Flavio Stanchi; Lars Vilhubern
  10. Women and Economics Workshops Run by Gary Becker and Jacob Mincer at Columbia University and the University of Chicago By Andrea Beller; Shoshana Grossbard; Ana Fava; Marouane Idmansour
  11. An ECB’s Staff Narrative of Two Decades of European Central Banking: a critical review By Sergio Cesaratto

  1. By: Davis, John B. (Department of Economics Marquette University)
    Abstract: This chapter critically evaluates standard economics’ treatment of positive and normative, drawing on Putnam’s (2002) fact-value entanglement argument. It argues that economics is an inherently value-laden discipline but may still be an ‘objective’ one. The means of achieving this is to carry out a programme of value disentanglement that evaluates research approaches according to whether their different value structures are consistent. The method employed assumes that economics and social science disciplines are built around anchor values or normative ideals and additional sets of values concerning what most people in those disciplines see as most valuable and good about human society and characteristic of human nature from the perspective of their disciplines. Since the rise of neoclassicism, in economics the anchor value has been what I term an ‘individual realisation’ ideal. This normative ideal is coupled with values that interpret what individual well-being involves, based on additional values regarding what individuals are. The chapter evaluates the value structures of mainstream economics preferences/utility and the capability conceptions of individuals. The chapter concludes with discussion of different forms of interdisciplinarity and advances a general framework for ethics and economics in an ‘objective’ economics.
    Keywords: positive, normative, fact-value entanglement, individual realisation, capability, disciplinarity
    JEL: A13 B20 B41 B55
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Agnès Festré (GREDEG CNRS; Université Côte d'Azur, France); Stein Østbye (University of Tromsø, Norway)
    Abstract: In this paper we revisit Michael Polanyi's overall contribution to the understanding of tacit knowledge and its implications in philosophy of science with a focus on experimental research in social sciences. We first review and discuss Polanyi's references to experiments in general. An extensive number of these experiments are summarised in tabular form in the Appendix, distinguishing between experiments on the phenomenon of tacit knowledge, discussed in Subsection 2.1, and experiments on the epistemological implications of tacit knowledge, discussed in Subsection 2.2 Secondly, we discuss tacit knowledge as a confounding factor and limitation to replicability in social science experiments (Subsection 3.1) and tacit knowledge as a phenomenon to be elicitated through controlled variation in experimental design (Subsection 3.2). In the concluding section, we call for rejuvenation of the study of social epistemology and the social construction of science, suggested to start with Polanyi and his generation, where attention now should be directed to social science rather than hard science.
    Keywords: philosophy of science, tacit knowledge, methodology, experiments, replication
    JEL: B25 B31 B41 B5 C9
    Date: 2021–12
  3. By: Lynch, Owen
    Abstract: FROM THE REVIEW: You see, I'm trying to give you a picture of what it is like to read this book, and the experience of having a tantalizing insight dangled in front of you but then being forced to read far more history and statistics than you would really like to understand it is essentially all of Capital as Power. Capital as Power is long, but extremely full of content [...] Bichler and Nitzan write in a very engaging way; not necessarily easy to read but certainly action-packed. And there are many, many interesting historical nuggets in the book, like the history of GM's EV1 car. [U]nlike the laws of economics which mostly claim to be universal across time, the strength of Capital as Power is that they can identify what things are true about some periods, and not of others, and integrate these assumptions into their models. In other words, rather than being a general theory of economics, Capital as Power is a general theory of the space of possible capitalist politics, or as Bichler and Nitzan seem to be so happy to coin, a general theory of possible capitalist creorders.
    Keywords: capital as power
    JEL: P16 P1
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Franz Dietrich (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: This essay discusses the difficulty to reconcile two paradigms about beliefs: the binary or categorical paradigm of yes/no beliefs and the probabilistic paradigm of degrees of belief. The possibility for someone to hold both types of belief simultaneously is challenged by the lottery paradox, and more recently by a general impossibility theorem. The nature, relevance and implications of the tension are explained and assessed. A more technical elaboration can be found in Dietrich and List (2018, 2021)
    Keywords: logic vs. rational choice theory; yes/no belief vs. subjective probabilities; lottery paradox; general impossibility theorem
    JEL: D80 D83
    Date: 2021–11
  5. By: Olkhov, Victor
    Abstract: We consider economic agents, agent’s variables, agent’s trades and deals with other agents and agent’s expectations as ground for theoretical description of economic and financial processes. Macroeconomic and financial variables are composed by agent’s variables. In turn, sums of agent’s trade values or volumes determine evolution of agent’s variables. In conclusion, agent’s expectations govern agent’s trade decisions. We consider that trinity - agent’s variables, trades and expectations as simple bricks for theoretical description of economics. We note models that describe variables determined by sums of market trades during certain time interval Δ as the first-order economic theories. Most current economic models belong to the first-order economic theories. However, we show that these models are insufficient for adequate economic description. Trade decisions substantially depend on market price forecasting. We show that reasonable predictions of market price volatility equal descriptions of sums of squares of trade values and volumes during Δ. We call modeling variables composed by sums of squares of market trades as the second-order economic theories. If forecast of price probability uses 3-d price statistical moment and price skewness then it equals description of sums of 3-d power of market trades – the third-order economic theory. Exact prediction of market price probability equals description of sums of n-th power of market trades for all n. That limits accuracy of price probability forecasting and confines forecast validity of economic theories.
    Keywords: theoretical economics; price probability; volatility; market trades; expectations
    JEL: A1 C0 E0 E1 E3 G0
    Date: 2021–12–01
  6. By: Guilherme Spinato Morlin; Nikolas Passos; Riccardo Pariboni
    Abstract: Recently, demand-led growth theories reshaped the study of comparative political economy. Since the Baccaro and Pontusson critique of Varieties of Capitalism, a new wave of studies has sought to analyze national economies in terms of their main demand driver of growth. Post-Keynesian authors provided extensions to perfect the fit between demand-led growth theories and comparative political economy. We argue that the Sraffian supermultiplier provides a growth theory compatible with the growth model perspective advanced by Baccaro and Pontusson and has advantages over Kaleckian and New Keynesian approaches. The concept of the autonomous components of demand, which comprise government spending, export, and debt-financed consumption, is already central for the studies of growth models. The supermultiplier provides a theory that coherently understands the relation between the autonomous demand drivers and the other induced components of demand. We demonstrate our arguments by decomposing the growth of four advanced economies: the United States, Germany, Japan, and Sweden. The decomposition shows the importance of separating the autonomous from the induced components and highlights the relevance of public expenditures and exports as growth drivers in advanced economies.
    Keywords: Comparative Political Economy, growth models, Sraffian supermultiplier
    JEL: B52 E12 O47 O57 P52
    Date: 2021–12
  7. By: Alain Raybaut (Université Côte d'Azur, France; GREDEG CNRS)
    Keywords: Léon Dupriez, International Economic Association
    Date: 2021–12
  8. By: Courtney Butler; Brett Currier; Kira Lillard
    Abstract: For many years, economics researchers have discussed the importance of sharing code and data files to ensure replicability. The discussion, however, rarely includes questions about long-term access to those files. This paper looks in-depth at the code and data policies from top economics journals to understand the guidance provided to researchers regarding data sharing and asks if that guidance supports preservation of code and data files for access and use, long into the future. We used content analysis to review journal policies from 184 economics journals. We discovered that while most journals recommend code and data be released with papers and that a few journals recommend practices consistent with long-term preservation, almost no journals specifically or emphatically consider long-term preservation of those files.
    Keywords: Economic Journals; Code Preservation; Data Preservation
    JEL: B40 C80 Y8
    Date: 2021–12–03
  9. By: Sylvérie Herbert; Hautahi Kingi; Flavio Stanchi; Lars Vilhubern
    Abstract: Given the importance of reproducibility for the scientific ethos, more and more journals have pushed for transparency of research through data availability policies. If the introduction and implementation of such data policies improve the availability of researchers' code and data, what is the impact on reproducibility? We describe and present the results of a large reproduction exercise in which we assess the reproducibility of research articles published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, which has implemented a data availability policy since 2005. Our replication success rate is relatively moderate, with 37.78% of replication attempts successful. 68 of 162 eligible replication attempts successfully replicated the article's analysis (41.98%) conditional on non-confidential data. A further 69 (42.59%) were at least partially successful. A total of 98 out of 303 (32.34%) relied on confidential or proprietary data, and were thus not reproducible by this project. We also conduct several bibliometric analyses of reproducible vs. non-reproducible articles and show that replicable papers do not provide citation bonuses for authors.
    Keywords: Replication, Reproducibility, Transparency, Replicability, Journal Policies
    JEL: B41 C80 C81 C87 C88
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Andrea Beller (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); Shoshana Grossbard (San Diego State University); Ana Fava (Federal University of ABC); Marouane Idmansour (Ecole Nationale de Commerce et de Gestion)
    Abstract: In the period 1960-1980 Gary Becker founded workshops for graduate students in economics, first the Labor Workshop at Columbia University and then the Applications of Economics Workshop at the University of Chicago. The workshops fostered novel applications of economics dealing with labor, consumption, household production, household formation, human capital, crime and politics. We document the high proportion of women in these workshops, comparing (1) Columbia to Chicago, (2) the Columbia Labor Workshop over various periods, under the leadership of Becker, Mincer, or both, and (3) the Becker-founded workshops to other workshops at Columbia. We estimate regressions of the odds that a PhD was awarded to a woman for students at Columbia or Chicago who graduated between 1960 and 1980, as a function of whether and when the student participated in a Becker-founded workshop. Tentative explanations are offered for inter-university and period variation in odds that graduates were women. In addition, we compare gender ratios of graduates from Columbia and Chicago, where Becker-founded workshops were available during all or part of the period, with that of students at universities located nearby, NYU and Northwestern, where Becker did not found workshops.
    Keywords: graduate education, graduation rates, gender ratios in economics
    JEL: A23 A14 J16
    Date: 2021–12
  11. By: Sergio Cesaratto
    Abstract: Monetary Policy in Times of Crisis (Rostagno et al. 2021) has three relevant features. The first is its criticism of the absence of an adequate European fiscal policy during the financial crisis. This left the ECB on its own. The second feature concerns the explanation of the theoretical framework that guided the ECB's action. While it is interesting that the authors point out that monetary policy acts on the demand side (and is therefore neutral neither in the short nor in the long-run), a plain explanation of the channels through which the central bank can influence demand is absent. The third feature is the chronicle of events and of the clash of positions within the ECB. This aspect would have, however, gained from a bolder and less conventional interpretative scheme. The book thus appears to be lacking both in a clear exposition of the ECB's analytical background and its evolution during the crisis, and in a comprehensive explanation of its policies. It is likely that the authors' economic training based on the neo-Keynesian mainstream model has greatly conditioned them in a technically convoluted, but too often uninspiring interpretation of events and policies. It is also possible that the difficulty of demonstrating the effectiveness of the monetary policy measures undertaken by the ECB in the absence of a proactive fiscal policy contributed to the widespread technical laboriousness of the argument in many pages of the book. Especially for academic teaching, but also for the informed public debate, a more accessible level would have been advisable. An appendix seeks to explain T-LTRO operations, the logic of which the book fails to elucidate
    JEL: E11 E12 E52 E58 N14
    Date: 2021–12

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