nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2023‒05‒29
eleven papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Should history change the way we think about populism? By Alan de Bromhead; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
  2. Economic Convergence and the End of History: Envisioning Economy Beyond Technological Singularity By Sachin Sharma; Vijay Kumar; Babloo Jakhar
  3. Surplus Approach and Institutions: Where Sraffa Meets Polanyi By Cesaratto, Sergio
  4. Du corporatisme au communisme : les sentiers sinueux du professeur Henri Denis. Retour sur un épisode académique français By Damien Bazin; Thierry Pouch
  5. Commoning with Henri Lefebvre By Juskowiak, Piotr
  6. Theories of market selection: a survey By Luca Fontanelli
  7. Homo Moralis and regular altruists II By Aslihan Akdeniz; Christopher Graser; Matthijs van Veelen
  8. Why Do Older Scholars Slow Down? By Daniel S. Hamermesh; Lea-Rachel Kosnik
  9. ‘Let's call a spade a spade, not a gardening tool’: How euphemisms shape moral judgement in corporate social responsibility domains By Katherine Farrow; Gilles Grolleau; Naoufel Mzoughi
  10. Who’s Afraid of Policy Experiments? By Robert Dur; Arjan Non; Paul Prottung; Benedetta Ricci
  11. The People and the Experts: Alternative Views on Economic Affairs By William Nordhaus; Douglas Rivers

  1. By: Alan de Bromhead; Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke
    Abstract: This paper asks whether history should change the way in which economists and economic historians think about populism. We use Müller’s definition, according to which populism is ‘an exclusionary form of identity politics, which is why it poses a threat to democracy’. We make three historical arguments. First, late 19th century US Populists were not populist. Second, there is no necessary relationship between populism and anti-globalization sentiment. Third, economists have sometimes been on the wrong side of important policy debates involving opponents rightly or wrongly described as populist. History encourages us to avoid an overly simplistic view of populism and its correlates.
    Date: 2023–04–25
  2. By: Sachin Sharma (CRSU - Department of Economics, Chaudhary Ranbir Singh University); Vijay Kumar (CRSU - Department of Economics, Chaudhary Ranbir Singh University); Babloo Jakhar (Department of Economics, Central University of Rajasthan)
    Abstract: This paper explores the evolution of "Economy at Technological Singularity" (EaTS) and its implications on the concept of natural liberty and welfare in an economic system. The study begins by discussing Keynes' prophetic ideas of an economic utopia and then delves into the role of technological advancement, particularly Artificial Intelligence, in the EaTS system. The study contrasts the ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith in defining natural liberty and the individual incentive mechanism. Giddens' structuration theory highlights the central role of "authoritative resources" in determining the dominion of mankind over "allocative resources". Further, Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is employed to understand the nature of true natural liberty and the idea of transcendence. The paper also explores the notion of utopia and the "End of History" and concludes with the idea that the holy grail of economics is a mechanism design problem, constrained by technology that dynamically alters the economic world order. Thus, economists must rethink outside the conventional spectrum of economic thought and design new ways to structure incentives and distribution mechanisms for future human civilization.
    Keywords: economic convergence, economic bliss, technological singularity, artificial intelligence, end of history, natural liberty, transcendence
    Date: 2023–04–22
  3. By: Cesaratto, Sergio (University of Siena)
    Abstract: Relying on anthropological and archaeological research based on the notion of social surplus, and on the lessons of Marx, Polanyi, Sraffa and Garegnani, the paper argues that the classical surplus approach is naturally associated with institutional and historical analysis. The concept of social surplus is a skeleton which is given muscles by institutional analysis while the latter would be enervated if not anchored to a base of ultimate material interests. Institutions should be looked at in relation to the extraction and distribution of the social surplus and the resulting inequality and social conflict. The paper offers a novel Post Keynesian view of institutions in an interdisciplinary perspective.
    Keywords: Surplus; Economic History; Institutions; Marx; Sraffa; Polanyi
    JEL: A12 B51 B52
    Date: 2023–04–27
  4. By: Damien Bazin (Université Côte d'Azur; GREDEG CNRS); Thierry Pouch (Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne, REGARDS)
    Abstract: La figure d'Henri Denis est indissociable de l'enseignement universitaire d'Histoire de la pensée économique en France durant les années 1960-1990 et de l'implantation du marxisme. A ce titre, il a pu être considéré comme un économiste sulfureux, notamment de la part de ses collègues les plus libéraux. Henri Denis n'a toutefois été qu'un marxiste tardif. Durant les années 1940, il est proche du courant corporatiste, qui fut l'un des axes du régime de Vichy. Cet article entend reconstituer le parcours sulfureux de cet économiste français.
    Keywords: Crise, économie, guerre, histoire de la pensée économique, politique française
    JEL: B24 B41 B50
    Date: 2022–03
  5. By: Juskowiak, Piotr
    Abstract: In this article, I ask how Henri Lefebvre’s oeuvre can contribute to the foundations for a metromarxist theory of urban commoning. To provide an answer to this question I discuss three main areas in which his thinking about the common emerges – his anthropology, philosophy of the urban, and politics of autogestion. This allows me to emphasize the multidimensionality of the Lefebvre-minded commoning, which manifests itself not only at the level of local activism but also touches the dimensions of the production of subjectivity and the constitution of the urban. Read in this way, Lefebvre’s theory of urban commoning helps us to move beyond some of the limitations of the existing discussion of urban commons, as well as to make room for a more fruitful dialogue between urban scholars and autonomist Marxists. It also equips us with an alternative conceptual framework that potentially enhances post-Lefebvrian projects of direct urban democracy.
    Date: 2023–04–22
  6. By: Luca Fontanelli
    Abstract: We provide a survey of the main mechanisms of market selection used in economics. We gather them in three theoretical paradigms (rational equilibrium, Simonesque and evolutionary), that we try to reconcile in terms of underlying laws of selection. We show that the three paradigms have been converging in their focus on firm heterogeneity and increasing returns. These selec- tion mechanisms are however fostered by theories which differ in terms of sources of increasing returns, generating mechanisms of firm heterogeneity, firm rationality and emphasis on equilibrium states vis-a-vis out-of-equilibrium dynamics. Our discussion suggests that the convergence between the three theoretical paradigms is taking place in the direction of research, which is aimed at the replication of empirical patterns related to firm heterogeneity, rather than in the theory underlying selection mechanisms.
    Keywords: Selection; competition; monopolistic competition; quasi-replicator; Gibrat's Law.
    Date: 2023–05–15
  7. By: Aslihan Akdeniz (University of Amsterdam); Christopher Graser (University of Amsterdam); Matthijs van Veelen (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: Alger and Weibull (2013) ask the question whether a combination of assortative matching and incomplete information leads to the evolution of moral or altruistic preferences. Their central result states that Homo Hamiltonenis – a type that has moral preferences with a morality parameter equal to the level of assortment – is evolutionarily stable, while preferences that lead to different behaviour are unstable. Together with their claim that altruistic and moral preferences differ sharply, this suggests that moral preferences tend to beat altruistic ones in evolutionary competition. We show that this is not true. First of all, we show that there is a loophole in the definition of evolutionary stability, allowing for Homo Hamiltonensis to satisfy the definition when the set of equilibria is empty, and their equilibrium behaviour is not determined. If we try to close this loophole, by allowing for mixing, or by allowing for asymmetric equilibria, we find that there are two options. With the first approach, the differences in behaviour between Homo Hamiltonensis and regular altruists can be substantial, but as soon as the difference appears, Homo Hamiltonensis can be invaded, and regular altruists win in direct competition. With the second way of allowing for mixing, or coordination on asymmetric equilibria, Homo Hamiltonensis cannot be invaded, but then the difference in behaviour all but disappears, as all equilibria between Homo Hamiltonensis are also equilibria between regular altruists. Classification-JEL:
    Keywords: Altruism, morality, evolution, assortment, incomplete information.
    Date: 2023–05–08
  8. By: Daniel S. Hamermesh; Lea-Rachel Kosnik
    Abstract: Using data describing all “Top 5” economics journal publications from 1969-2018, we examine what determines which authors produce less as they age and which retire earlier. Sub-field has no impact on the rate of production, but interacts with it to alter retirement probabilities. A positive, tentative, and contemporary writing style increases persistence in publishing. Authors whose previous work was more heavily cited produce slightly more. Those better-cited with more top-flight publications retire later than others. Declining publication with age arises mostly from habit—there is a very significant increasing positive autocorrelation of publication across the decades of a career.
    JEL: A14 J26
    Date: 2023–04
  9. By: Katherine Farrow (EconomiX - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Gilles Grolleau (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement - Institut Agro - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement); Naoufel Mzoughi (ECODEVELOPPEMENT - Unité de recherche d'Écodéveloppement - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)
    Abstract: Many organizations, especially businesses, make heavy use of euphemisms when communicating on sensitive issues. We explore whether the use of euphemisms, as opposed to equivalent plain terms, influences the moral judgments made by recipients of these messages, notably pertaining to (un)ethical behaviors in corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Using six ethical and unethical scenarios in a between-subjects experiment, we find four main results. First, individuals judge ethical actions more favorably when they are presented in euphemistic terms versus in plain terms. Second, euphemisms increase the acceptability of unethical CSR practices, which are judged to be significantly less unethical when described using euphemistic terms relative to plain terms. Third, most examined euphemisms are found to increase (respectively, decrease) the likelihood of stated willingness to sign a petition supporting (respectively, denouncing) the considered practices. Fourth, euphemisms remain effective for respondents who view firms as hypocritical.
    Keywords: CSR, Ethics, Euphemism, Moral judgement
    Date: 2021–07
  10. By: Robert Dur (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Arjan Non (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Paul Prottung; Benedetta Ricci
    Abstract: In many public policy areas, randomized policy experiments can greatly contribute to our knowledge of the effects of policies and can thus help to improve public policy. However, policy experiments are not very common. This paper studies whether a lack of appreciation of policy experiments among voters may be the reason for this. Using unique survey data representative of the Dutch electorate, we find clear evidence contradicting this view. Voters strongly support policy experimentation and, in line with theory, particularly so when they do not hold a strong opinion about the policy. In a subsequent survey experiment among Dutch politicians, we find that politicians conform their expressed opinion about policy experiments to what we tell them the actual opinion of voters is. We conclude that voters are not afraid of policy experiments and neither are politicians when we tell them that voters are not.
    Keywords: policy experiments, randomized controlled trials, voters, politicians, public policy, survey experiment, conformism.
    JEL: C93 D72 D78
    Date: 2023–05–08
  11. By: William Nordhaus (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Douglas Rivers (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Are speculators driving up oil prices? Should we raise energy prices to slow global warming? The present study takes a small number of such questions and compares the views of economic experts with those of the public. This comparison uses a panel of 2000+ respondents from YouGov with the views of the panel of experts from the IGM at the Chicago Booth School. We found that most of the US population is at best modestly informed about major economic questions and policies. The low level of knowledge is generally associated with he intrusion of ideological, political, and religious views that challenge or deny the current economic consensus. The intruding factors are highly heterogeneous and are much more diverse than the narrowness of public political discourse would suggest. Many of these findings have been established for scientific subjects, but they appear to be equally important for economic views.
    Date: 2023–05

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