nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2022‒08‒08
eleven papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Is God giving or trading? Super Isaiam, 55, 1: Thomas Aquinas's first use of 'just price' By Pierre Januard
  2. Institutional Economics and Dewey's Instrumentalism By Malcolm Rutherford
  3. Setting the Record Straight on the Libertarian South African Economist W. H. Hutt and James M. Buchanan By William Darity Jr.; M'Balou Camara; Nancy MacLean
  4. At the Boundaries of the Trading Sphere: The Appearance of the 'Just Price' in Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on the Sentences By Pierre Januard
  5. An Economic Defense of Multiple Antitrust Goals: Reversing Income Inequality and Promoting Political Democracy By Mark Glick
  6. History of science and its utopian reconstructions By Paskins, Matthew
  7. Saving the lost ones By Glendinning, Simon
  8. Shaky foundations Central bank independence in the 21st century By Laurence Scialom; Gaëtan Le Quang; Jérôme Deyris
  9. The View of Knowledge: An Institutional Theory of Differences in Educational Quality By Henrekson, Magnus; Wennström, Johan
  10. The Philosophical Justifications of the “Fair Innings Argument” and Related Controversies By Clémence Thebaut; Paul-Loup Weil-Dubuc; Jérôme Wittwer
  11. Généalogie de l'évaluation économique en santé : l'application de l'Operational Research en santé (1946-1979) By Clémence Thebaut

  1. By: Pierre Januard (PHARE - Philosophie, Histoire et Analyse des Représentations Économiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: The phrase 'just price' first appears in Aquinas's Commentary on the Book of Isaiah (1252). Interestingly, even in this early work Aquinas introduces the notion of price to comment on a verse, a term which had in fact disappeared with the Vulgate Latin translation, on which Aquinas nevertheless relied, as it had also from the Fathers's commentaries. Aquinas here provides the founding elements of his later analyses: the role of the price in ensuring the justice of exchange, but also the diversity of possible exchange ratios, not necessarily referring to price, in order to account for limit cases within an exchange framework.
    Keywords: Thomas Aquinas,Scholastics,just price,risk JEL classification: B11
    Date: 2022–05–03
  2. By: Malcolm Rutherford (Department of Economics, University of Victoria)
    Abstract: Previous discussions concerning the relationship between John Dewey’s pragmatic instrumentalism and institutional economics have focused on Clarence Ayres and on issues of valuation. This paper gives attention to the actual conduct of economic investigations by institutionalists such as Wesley Mitchell, Walton Hamilton, and John R. Commons. It is argued that many aspects of Dewey’s instrumentalism are clearly displayed in the problem centered, investigational, and experimental methods employed by institutionalists, and in their commitment to problem solving and social control. The association of institutionalist methods with Dewey’s instrumentalism implies that many of the standard criticisms of institutionalist methods are misplaced. These criticisms, that institutionalism lacked proper theoretical perspective and produced work that was overly descriptive, have been made predominantly from a logical positivist methodological perspective, and ignore Dewey’s notions of science that informed the institutionalist approach. Appraising institutionalist successes and failures from the point of view of the methodology they actually adopted provides a much more nuanced criticism, one based on the strengths and weaknesses of the underlying instrumentalist methods they employed. In particular, some serious difficulties with the application of Dewey’s experimentalism to social science are located.
    Keywords: Institutionalism, Instrumentalism, John Dewey, Wesley Mitchell, Walton Hamilton, J. R. Commons
    Date: 2022–07–12
  3. By: William Darity Jr. (Duke University); M'Balou Camara (Duke University); Nancy MacLean (Duke University)
    Abstract: In their stormy response to Nancy MacLean's book Democracy in Chains, some academics on the libertarian right have conducted a concerted defense of Nobel Laureate James Buchanan's credentials as an anti-racist, or at least a non-racist. An odd component of their argument is a claim of innocence by association: the peripatetic South African economist and Mont Pelerin Society founding member William Harold Hutt was against apartheid; Buchanan was a friend and supporter of Hutt; therefore, Buchanan could not have been abetting segregationists with his support for public funding of segregationist private schools. At the core of this chain of argument is the inference that Hutt's opposition to apartheid proves that Hutt himself was committed to racial equality. However, just as there were white supremacists who opposed slavery in the United States, we demonstrate Hutt was a white supremacist who opposed apartheid in South Africa. We document how Hutt embraced notions of black inferiority, even in The Economics of the Colour Bar, his most ferocious attack on apartheid. Whether or not innocence by association is a sound defense of anyone's ideology or conduct, Hutt, himself, was not innocent of white supremacy.
    Keywords: Race and economics; James Buchanan, Libertarianism, South Africa, Public Choice.
    JEL: B25 I24 I28 J15 N17 N12 N37
    Date: 2022–05–26
  4. By: Pierre Januard (PHARE - Philosophie, Histoire et Analyse des Représentations Économiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: The term 'just price' appears only twice in the Commentary on the Sentences, the most important of Thomas Aquinas's early works. Yet these little known and seemingly incidental appearances, related to a non-tradable good and a semi-tradable good, are in fact fundamental and decisive: they offer a new way of understanding the Thomasian just price as an analogy of justice; they highlight the role of price in reducing the risk of lack of information about the justice of exchange; they allow the market to be delimited; and they indicate how, through paying particular attention to the goods, Aquinas implements an objective approach that reduces the subjective risk concerning the agents and their hidden intentions.
    Keywords: Thomas Aquinas,Scholastics,just price,risk
    Date: 2022–05–03
  5. By: Mark Glick (University of Utah)
    Abstract: Two recent papers by prominent antitrust scholars argue that a revived antitrust movement can help reverse the dramatic rise in economic inequality and the erosion of political democracy in the United States. Both papers rely on the legislative history of the key antitrust statutes to support their case. Not surprisingly, their recommendations have been met with alarm in some quarters and with skepticism in others. Such proposals by antitrust reformers are often contrasted with the Consumer Welfare Standard that pervades antitrust policy today. The Consumer Welfare Standard suffers from several defects: (1) It employs a narrow, unworkable measure of welfare; (2) It excludes important sources of welfare based on the assumption that antitrust seeks only to maximize wealth; (3) It assumes a constant and equal individual marginal utility of money; and (4) It is often combined with extraneous ideological goals. Even with these defects, however, if applied consistent with its theoretical underpinnings, the consideration of the transfer of labor rents resulting from a merger or dominant firm conduct is supported by the Consumer Welfare Standard. Moreover, even when only consumers (and not producers) are deemed relevant, the welfare of labor still should consistently be considered part of consumer welfare. In contrast, fostering political democracy—a prominent traditional antitrust goal that was jettisoned by the Chicago School—falls outside the Consumer Welfare Standard in any of its constructs. To undergird such important broader goals requires that the Consumer Welfare Standard be replaced with the General Welfare Standard. The General Welfare Standard consists of modern welfare economics modified to accommodate objective analyses of human welfare and purged of inconsistencies.
    Keywords: New Brandeis School, Antitrust economics, Antitrust law, Neoliberal Economic Theory, Chicago School Economics, History of Antitrust law; market concentration; corporation size.
    JEL: K21 L40 N12
    Date: 2022–03–21
  6. By: Paskins, Matthew
    Abstract: In recent years explicitly utopian visions have reappeared across the political spectrum. To a surprising degree these visions have drawn on histories and science and technology. What should scholars of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) make of these developments? The concept of utopia has often been treated with considerable distrust in these fields, as an indication of closed end-directed blueprints, or as an indication of fantasies of limitless technological improvement and purification of categories. Alongside this uneasiness, however, HPS and STS scholars have also projected transformative ambitions, seeking to recover from the past different ways of knowing and relating to the human and non-human world. By engaging with critiques of utopia from thinkers including Karl Popper, Otto Neurath, Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers and Donna Haraway, and exploring some of the utopian strands which have recurred in studies of science and technology—including the longing for integration, the association of science with planning, and the ways in which feminist scholars have envisaged alternative forms of science—we can understand the ongoing, and often unrecognised, utopian dimensions of HPS and STS.
    Keywords: Anthropocene; Feminist theory; Integration; Planning; Pluralism; Utopia; European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 694732- NARRATIVENSCIENCE)
    JEL: B10 B20
    Date: 2020–06–20
  7. By: Glendinning, Simon
    Abstract: In an essay on the modern idea of political equality, Bernard Williams contrasts what he calls ‘the human point of view’ with a point of view marked by what he calls a ‘technical or professional attitude’. While the latter is concerned with conspicuous structures of someone’s life that might be by occupied by another, the former concerns an attitude towards a singular person, what Wittgenstein calls ‘an attitude towards a soul’ – an attitude characteristically exemplified in the relation to the other who is a friend. It is the one who is in view under such a singularising gaze that seems to be lost as soon as we start counting others, counting our friends. The paper explores the general haunting of the modern-Western idea of all people’s equality by the hazy spectre of what is disclosed by this singularising gaze, and asks how we might organise a response politically to the in each case unique and singular relation to the unique and singular other we call the friend – the one who is both altogether other and my equal.
    JEL: B14 B24 P2 P3
    Date: 2022–06–01
  8. By: Laurence Scialom; Gaëtan Le Quang; Jérôme Deyris
    Abstract: Central bank independence (CBI) has often been presented as a superior institutional arrangement demonstrated by economists in the 1980s for achieving a common good in a non-partisan manner. In this article, we argue that this view must be challenged. First, research in the history of economic facts and thought shows that the idea of CBI is not new, and was adopted under peculiar socio-historical conditions, in response to particular interests. Rather than an indisputable progress in economic science, CBI is the foundation for a particular configuration of the monetary regime, perishable like its predecessors. Secondly, we argue that the simplistic case imagined by the CBI theory (the setting of a single interest rate disconnected from political pressures) is long overdue. For nearly two decades, central banks have been increasing their footprint on the economy, embarking on large asset purchase programs and adopting macroprudential policies. This pro-activism forces independent central banks to constantly address new distributional - and therefore political - issues, leading to a growing number of criticisms of their actions with regard to inequality or climate change. This growing gap between theory and practices makes plausible a further shift of the institutional arrangement towards a democratization of monetary policy.
    Keywords: central bank independence, monetary policy, macroprudential policy
    JEL: E58 G28 N20
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Henrekson, Magnus (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Wennström, Johan (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: This essay argues that the most crucial institution of any school system is its view of knowledge—from which virtually all other aspects of a school are derived: the content of its curricula, its pedagogical practices, and the incentives that motivate its members. To make this case, we outline the two main conflicting views of knowledge, the classical view and the postmodern social constructivist view. According to the classical view, the purpose of schooling is to give students objective knowledge and skills that they cannot acquire in any way other than through hierarchical instruction in well-defined disciplines. The social constructivist view rejects the existence of objective knowledge. This rejection translates to a preference for student-directed pedagogy, the mixing of instructional fields, and an emphasis on developing general critical thinking skills rather than on acquiring domain-specific knowledge. Using the history of education in Sweden as an example, our analysis suggests that the recent decline in educational quality in the Western democracies can be remedied by a paradigm shift in the governing view of knowledge toward the classical view.
    Keywords: Communal knowledge; Institutions; Postmodernism; Social constructivism; Thought style; Views of knowledge
    JEL: H42 H44 H75 I22 I28 L88
    Date: 2022–06–22
  10. By: Clémence Thebaut (NET - Neuroépidémiologie Tropicale - INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - Institut d'Epidémiologie Neurologique et de Neurologie Tropicale - CHU Limoges - GEIST - Institut Génomique, Environnement, Immunité, Santé, Thérapeutique - UNILIM - Université de Limoges, LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, UNILIM - Université de Limoges); Paul-Loup Weil-Dubuc (Université Paris-Saclay); Jérôme Wittwer (BPH - Bordeaux population health - UB - Université de Bordeaux - Institut de Santé Publique, d'Épidémiologie et de Développement (ISPED) - INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale)
    Abstract: Financing innovative and costly treatments in various therapeutic fields entails a number of problems in countries where costs are covered by public services. Providing these drugs is forcing actors to define the maximum sums of money society is willing to spend for given health improvements. This raises the question of whether maximum financing should vary according individuals' circumstances, such as the rareness of a disease, lifestyles, social inequalities experienced over a life time, etc. This article examines a particular priority, namely that given to the youngest patients, such prioritising usually refers to the "fair innings argument" (FIA). The challenge is to identify if, and on the basis of what arguments, collective choices should take into account age in the name of a right to live the time required for a complete life, within a context of the scarcity of resources and the pluralism of values. Three arguments are considered. At first we consider that FIA could be justified by the objective of equalizing the opportunities of well-being. Next, we proposed justifying the fair innings argument with the aim of equalizing the time provided to individuals to achieve their plan of life, in accordance with Rawls's theory of justice as fairness. Finally, we proposed considering the FIA as being justified because of the goal of equalizing the time provided to individuals to accept death. These three arguments, of course, have many limitations, some of which we have highlighted.
    Date: 2022–05–17
  11. By: Clémence Thebaut (NET - Neuroépidémiologie Tropicale - INSERM - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - Institut d'Epidémiologie Neurologique et de Neurologie Tropicale - CHU Limoges - GEIST - Institut Génomique, Environnement, Immunité, Santé, Thérapeutique - UNILIM - Université de Limoges, LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres, UNILIM - Université de Limoges)
    Date: 2022–05–10

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