nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2022‒06‒13
fourteen papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. De l’homo oeconomicus empathique à l’homo sympathicus Les apports de la sympathie smithienne à la compréhension des comportements prosociaux By Vanessa Oltra
  2. Categorical versus graded beliefs By Franz Dietrich
  3. On the recent philosophy of decision theory By Moscati, Ivan
  4. Good, Economic Welfare and the National Dividend—Pigou’s Welfare Triad By Aldrich, John
  5. Is the Price Right? The Role of Morals, Ideology, and Tradeoff Thinking in Explaining Reactions to Price Surges By Julio Elias; Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis
  6. What have the 2021 Nobel laureates done for us? By Jörn-Steffen Pischke
  7. Can a Catholic be Liberal? Roman Catholicism and Liberalism in a Political Economy Perspective (1800–1970) By Stefano Solari
  8. Marktwirtschaft und soziale Gerechtigkeit bei John Stuart Mill: Eine ordonomische Rekonstruktion By Pies, Ingo
  9. Kapitalismus(kritik) auf dem Prüfstand By Pies, Ingo
  10. Gender Economics: Dead-Ends and New Opportunities By Lundberg, Shelly
  11. Morals as Luxury Goods and Political Polarization By Benjamin Enke; Mattias Polborn; Alex Wu
  12. Remembering David Marsden By David Metcalf
  13. A Theory of Hypocrisy By Alice Hallman; Daniel Spiro
  14. JHET Interviews: Anthony Waterman By Emmett, Ross

  1. By: Vanessa Oltra (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Modern economic approaches of empathy and sympathy aim at adding an altruistic dimension to the standard economic decision theory. The purpose of the introduction of another regarding dimension, in addition to the sole personal interest, is to try to explain prosocial preferences or behaviours. In this article, we show how and why the economic literature tries to grasp those concepts, but in a way that is very far from the original Smithian sympathy developed in his Theory of Moral Sentiments (TSM). We argue that, by remaining in the framework of methodological individualism and instrumental rationality, economic approaches, particularly in the field of experimental and behavioural economics, tend to reduce and to intrumentalize the concepts of sympathy and empathy. Such approaches seem to us not consistent with the Smithian social philosophy of human nature and interpersonal relationships.
    Keywords: Smithian sympathy,Empathy,Theory of moral snetiments,behavioural economics
    Date: 2022–03–29
  2. 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 beliefs of both types 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)s
    Keywords: logic vs. rational choice theory; yes/no belief vs. subjective probabilities; lottery paradox; general impossibility theorem
    JEL: D80 D83
    Date: 2021–11
  3. By: Moscati, Ivan
    Abstract: In the philosophy of economics, the last fifteen years have witnessed an intense discussion about the epistemological status of economic models of decision making and their theoretical components, such as the concept of preference. In this article I offer a selective review of this discussion and indicate the directions in which I believe it should evolve.
    Keywords: behaviorism; choice; heuristics; mentalism; naturalism; Preference; scientific realism and antirealism
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2021–01–02
  4. By: Aldrich, John
    Abstract: Pigou’s welfare treatises are exercises in practical ethics. The exercises were founded on the ethical concepts of goodness and economic welfare with the economist’s national dividend providing the practical instrument for solving economic problems. This paper follows this triad from its origins in Pigou’s earliest writings on ethics and economic policy, into the welfare treatises and onto his last writings—a period of around 50 years.
    Date: 2022–04–09
  5. By: Julio Elias; Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis
    Abstract: Price surges often generate social disapproval and requests for regulation and price controls, but these interventions may cause inefficiencies and shortages. To study how individuals perceive and reason about sudden price increases for different products under different policy regimes, we conduct a survey experiment with Canadian and U.S. residents. Econometric and textual analyses indicate that prices are not seen just as signals of scarcity; they cause widespread opposition and strong and polarized moral reactions. However, acceptance of unregulated prices is higher when potential economic tradeoffs between unregulated and controlled prices are salient and when higher production costs contribute to the price increases. The salience of tradeoffs also reduces the polarization of moral judgments between supporters and opponents of unregulated pricing. In part, the acceptance of free price adjustments is driven by people’s overall attitudes about the function of markets and the government in society. These findings are corroborated by a donation experiment, and they suggest that awareness of the causes and potential consequences of price increases may induce less extreme views about the role of market institutions in governing the economy.
    Keywords: price surges, price controls, preferences, morality, tradeoffs
    JEL: C91 D63 D91 I11
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Jörn-Steffen Pischke
    Abstract: The 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens. Jörn-Steffen Pischke explains how the use of natural experiments in empirical economics, work in which they were pioneers, has ushered in much progress in the analysis of causal relationships, transforming the study of key policy challenges, including education, immigration and the minimum wage.
    Keywords: immigration, schools, social mobility, wages, policy, equality,
    Date: 2022–02–22
  7. By: Stefano Solari (Università di Padova)
    Abstract: The philosophy of the Enlightenment and political thought of modernity found tough opposition in the Roman Catholic Church. Liberalism was associated with Free Masons and revolutionary intent. Nonetheless, liberalism and political economy stimulated some theoretical analysis and specific theoretical positions in terms of social philosophy and social economics by the Church. This paper presents an analysis of encyclical letters and other papal documents, as well as the writings of other Catholic scholars, to elaborate on the theoretical points used to contrast liberalism. Compromises, as well as turning points in the evolution of the Catholic position, are investigated. Lastly, the epistemological and historical reasons for the affinity of Roman Catholicism with ethical liberalism and the limits of this similarity are discussed. 1. Liberal and Catholic, an Italian drama
    Date: 2022–03–24
  8. By: Pies, Ingo
    Abstract: Dieser Artikel rekonstruiert aus einer ordonomischen Perspektive, (a) welche Hindernisse einer verständigen Interpretation von John Stuart Mill im Wege stehen, (b) wie sein genereller Denkansatz beschaffen ist, (c) wie seine utilitaristische Ethik mit unterschiedlichen Gerechtigkeitskategorien umgeht, (d) wie er als Ökonom und Philosoph zu den Gerechtigkeitsidealen von Kommunismus und Sozialismus Stellung nimmt - sowie in präzise welchem Sinn der liberale Ökonom Mill ein (selbsternannter) Sozialist war, und in welchem nicht.
    Keywords: Ordonomik,Utilitarismus,soziale Gerechtigkeit,Moralwandel,institutionelle Reform,Ordonomics,Utilitarianism,Social Justice,Moral Change,Institutional Re-form
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Pies, Ingo
    Abstract: Dieser Aufsatz diskutiert die Stärken und Schwächen des Kapitalismus sowie der Kapitalismuskritik aus der wirtschaftsethischen Perspektive des ordonomischen Forschungsprogramms. Das Hauptargument lautet, dass vielen Menschen die Funktionsweise einer wettbewerblich verfassten Marktwirtschaft unklar ist und dass gerade deshalb viele negative Moralurteile über Kapitalismus schlecht informiert sind. Insbesondere wird oft übersehen, dass sich mit einer kapitalistischen Gesellschaftsordnung ganz neue Optionen zur Verwirklichung moralischer Anliegen eröffnen, insbesondere zur Solidarität mit Fremden, die man als Übergang von der Nächsten- zur Fernstenliebe kennzeichnen kann.
    Keywords: Ordonomik,Kapitalismus,Kapitalismuskritik,Wettbewerb,Marktwirtschaft,Moral,Ordonomics,capitalism,critique of capitalism,competition,market economy,morality
    Date: 2022
  10. By: Lundberg, Shelly (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    Abstract: The economics literature on gender has expanded considerably in recent years, fueled in part by new sources of data, including from experimental studies of gender differences in preferences and other traits. At the same time, economists have been developing more realistic models of psychological and social influences on individual choices and the evolution of culture and social norms. Despite these innovations much of the economics of gender has been left behind, and still employs a reductive framing in which gender gaps in economic outcomes are either due to discrimination or to “choice.” I suggest here that the persistence of this approach is due to several distinctive economic habits of mind—strong priors driven by market bias and gender essentialism, a perspective that views the default economic agent as male, and an oft-noted tendency to avoid complex problems in favor of those that can be modeled simply. I also suggest some paths forward.
    Keywords: gender, culture, social norms, discrimination
    JEL: J16
    Date: 2022–04
  11. By: Benjamin Enke; Mattias Polborn; Alex Wu
    Abstract: This paper develops a theory of political behavior in which moral values are a luxury good: the relative weight that voters place on moral rather than material considerations increases in income. This idea both generates new testable implications and ties together a broad set of empirical regularities about political polarization in the U.S. The model predicts (i) the emergence of economically left-wing elites; (ii) that more rich than poor people vote against their material interests; (iii) that within-party heterogeneity is larger among Democrats than Republicans; and (iv) widely-discussed realignment patterns: rich moral liberals who swing Democrat, and poor moral conservatives who swing Republican. Assuming that parties set policies by aggregating their supporters’ preferences, the model also predicts increasing social party polarization over time, such that poor moral conservatives swing Republican even though their relative incomes decreased. We relate these predictions to known stylized facts, and test our new predictions empirically.
    JEL: D03 D72
    Date: 2022–04
  12. By: David Metcalf
    Abstract: David Marsden, who passed away in August 2021, was involved in CEP research for many years, working on employment and industrial relations, youth employment and training, performance-related pay, performance management and individual employee voice. His long-time colleague David Metcalf recalls his broad-ranging contributions to academic life.
    Date: 2022–02–22
  13. By: Alice Hallman; Daniel Spiro
    Abstract: This paper explains the occurrence of hypocrisy – when the by-society most despised types pretend to be the most revered types. Real-world phenomena include pedophile priests, sex-offender feminists and seemingly very busy dispensable office workers. Building on the signaling framework of Bernheim (1994) – where payoffs consist of an intrinsic cost of falsifying yourself, and a concern for social esteem – we show conditions for emergence of hypocrisy in equilibrium. In such equilibria the most despised types along with the most revered types behave normatively, others do not. Thus, in equilibrium there are “rumors” about those acting the most normatively – society infers that they are either truly normative or despised, but one cannot know who is who. This is to be distinguished from “conformity” – where the most normative and almost-normative types fully follow a social norm. Whether conformity or hypocrisy will arise in equilibrium depends on the cost of falsification, and the number of hypocrites depends on the weight of social esteem. Our theory thus shows how cultural parameters map into equilibrium culture.
    Keywords: social esteem, hypocrisy, conformity, social norm
    JEL: D70 D91 Z10
    Date: 2022
  14. By: Emmett, Ross
    Abstract: JHET Interviews: Anthony Waterman, by Ross B. Emmett
    Date: 2022–04–09

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