The Economists’ Philosophy Day – A Journal of Philosophical Economics celebration of philosophical reflection in the economic science

Editor: Valentin Cojanu

Phenomenology and intersubjectivity in political economy: an anti-perfectionist perspective

Stefano Solari.
Anti-perfectionism is a philosophical perspective combining the view of man as an imperfect and non-self-sufficient being with a scientific epistemology based on imperfect knowledge. From an epistemological perspective, it has roots in Socrates and, more recently, in the post-empiricism of Giambattista Vico, up to phenomenology. From an anthropological perspective, it is a philosophical tradition based on an awareness of the constitutive dependency of individual performance and fulfilment of man on his interaction with others. It is conceived in opposition to the individualism and perfect rationality of most social theories. The paper analyses both the philosophical and the epistemological premises of anti-perfectionism as well as its consequences in terms of economic methodology. It will specifically develop the momentary intersection of phenomenology and Austrian economics. The theory of knowledge and of sense-making of phenomenology will be discussed with particular attention to intersubjectivity, which expresses anti-perfectionism well. The interpretations of human knowledge and action of Scheler and Schütz are analysed and connected to some contemporary streams of Austrian economics.

The Economic Cultures of Fear and Love

Frederic Jennings Jr..
In earlier work, the author has studied the economic role of planning horizons in making a case for complementarity as the predominant feature of social interdependence. This paper compares the different choice strategies implied by substitution, opposition and conflicts of interest in an economics of fear with those arising from horizon effects, economic complementarity and concerts of interest in an economics based on love. The contrasting implications of a psychological literature on negative vs. positive emotions and their health effects, along with the findings in neurophysiological research about how humans are hard-wired for empathy and compassion leads to some fundamental changes in how we might address and revise social problems through economic analysis. The aim of this paper is to extend a horizonal case for complementarity in the author's previous work into its psychological links to research findings on healthy cognitive function and its emotional basis. An economics of substitution yields quite different conclusions about optimal institutional forms and how we address and frame social relations than are implied by an explicitly horizonal economics of complementary social relations. Recent psychological and neurophysiological studies support a horizonal case for complementarity in social relations, showing that our orthodox substitution assumptions and models of competitive equilibrium should be rejected for a renewed economic analysis based on horizonal models […]

The Historicity of Economic Sciences: The Main Epistemological Ruptures

Alain Herscovici.
The object of this work is threefold: it consists (a) in explaining and justifying, based on Foucault's concept of episteme, the epistemological foundations from which Classical Economics, Keynesian Economics and Neoclassical Economics were built; (b) in studying the nature of the epistemological ruptures that allow differentiating these schools; and (c) in defining the degree of incommensurability of these different paradigms. In the first part, I will define the main epistemological tools that allow studying the birth and evolution of science. In the second part, I will study the nature of the epistemological ruptures that characterize these evolutions and these different schools.

The Opportunity Costs of Neoclassical Economics

Frederic Jennings Jr..
The notion of "opportunity cost" has been neglected in economics. The reason is that any such measure of cost is invisible, unobservable, and untestable. Yet the so-called 'competitive ideal' in neoclassical theory is based on claims of decreasing returns and substitutional tradeoffs in production, consumption and social relations, and therewith an exclusive focus on scarcity in economics. Within this view, collusion is suspect: it raises prices, reduces sales, and so harms social welfare. This is the baseline emphasis of neoclassical microeconomic theory. The opportunity costs of this framework involve a significant loss of perspective on actual economic phenomena, the potential value of which may far exceed that of orthodoxy. Here are several reasons why. First, the real world is interdependent and not decomposable into parts: all we do initiates effects spreading outward forever on everything. Second, our interconnected environment calls for a network or systems conception of economics in which substitution and complementarities coexist in nondecomposable tangles, obviating any institutional claim for the efficiency of competition over cooperation. Third, if all long-term production occurs with increasing returns, then the nature of economic relations solely reflects substitution for physical goods in short-term contexts; all long-term material outputsas well as all intangible tradesexhibit a complementary connection to make cooperation efficient. Fourth, the unbounded […]

Towards a Theory of Conversation in Political Economy

Gian Paolo Faella.
The paper analyzes the nature of Political Economy as a modern conversational style, by defining its logical and rhetoric features. Successively, a wider historical and political context linked to the birth of the discipline is taken into account and thoroughly introduced in its implications for the interpretation of the role of such a discipline in modern life. Finally Political Economy is examined under the light of the educational effort it requires, as an anti- rhetoric method of inquiry and dialogue.

Nietzsche and Fractal Geometry: a philosophical continuity

Leandro Gualario.
The purpose of this work is to highlight the epistemological proximity between Nietzsche’s philosophy of science and the underlying philosophical principles of fractal geometry, as illustrated in the main work of its creator, French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot.This work also aims to find the end of this philosophical continuity, finding an important divergence between Nietzsche’s philosophy of risk taking and Mandelbrot’s legacy in risk management.

Buddhist economics as a return to rational model of economic management

Viktor Zinchenko ; Mykhailo Boichenko.
The concept of Buddhist economics is gaining increased appeal in a world where external factors are once again becoming more of a threat than a salvation. Buddhist economy is a return to the values of agricultural production, but taking into account the experience and achievements of the industrial and post-industrial economy. Care for the environment, personal development, community development, especially spiritual development – these are the priorities of the Buddhist economy. In particular, agricultural production appears as only the most convenient means for achieving these goals. However, Buddhist economics is not a rejection of the achievements of modern and postmodern society – it is an attempt to use these experiences and achievements for a more intelligent and effective implementation of the goals of the economy, which were defined by Aristotle. The rational model of economic management according to these views consists in thrifty but full consumption and restrained production with environmentally friendly aims.

Towards a unity of sense: A critical analysis of the concept of relation in methodological individualism and holism in Economics

Giancarlo Ianulardo ; Aldo Stella.
In social sciences and, in particular, in economics the debate on the most adequate model of explanation of social phenomena has been centred around two models: Methodological Individualism and Holism. While Methodological Individualism claims to be the most rigorous attempt to explain social phenomena by reducing them to their ultimate components, Holism stresses the primacy of the social relation, outside of which individuals cannot be understood as analytical units. In the analysis, we will refer to the way the debate has influenced economics education too through the debate on microfoundations and the role of individual preferences. In synthesis, we aim to show that the two explanatory models, rather than being opposed, need to be integrated, because they need each other. But for this to be done, we need to reflect on the role that the concept of “relation” plays in our understanding of the social structure and of the dynamics that characterises it. Indeed, the holistic-systemic model, though privileging the relation, must acknowledge that the relation needs some ultimate elements (the individuals), which in turn are prioritised by methodological individualism. But these entities, the individuals, in order to be what they are, i.e., each a determinate identity, need each to be referred to other individuals, which are essential to determine the single determinate identity. This means that each individual needs the relation. To prevent a circular explanation, we claim […]

Relation of Carl Menger's philosophy of economics to Auguste Comte's positivism

Alexandru Popovici.
The conception of the founder of the Austrian School, in his book on the philosophy of social sciences, has been described, by the supporters of this school, as a total methodological individualism, upholding the absolute specificity of these sciences to those of nature, and as rejecting the use of mathematics in economics. In fact, the human individual was, for Carl Menger, only the fundamental element of socioeconomic structures. Economic theory was to be inspired by the "atomism" of the natural sciences and to determine the causes, effects and laws of the studied phenomena, with the aim of predicting and controlling them. Empirical study had to unite with conceptual abstraction and mathematics, in proportions determined by the simplicity or complexity of the field of research. These characteristics of the conception of C. Manger, like similar others, make us assume an important (but unconfessed) influence of A. Comte's positivism. However, to prove it, we will try to restore his true philosophy of science, warped by the neo-positivism of the energetist physicists and of the Vienna Circle.

‘Freedom’ on the Road to Ruin: An Australian Apology to America’s Freedom-Loving Hard Right.

L Duhs.
Contemporary America faces deep-seated problems - not least because so many Americans have lost respect for their own electoral system and democratic institutions. America suffers too from unrelenting right wing hyperbole in respect of significant social issues, including their conviction that only they understand, and value, freedom. Because of Australia’s restrictive responses to the covid-19 pandemic, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis – a potential Presidential candidate - denigrates Australia as ‘not a free country; not a free country at all’. Australians may dismiss Governor DeSantis’s comments as laughable, but a chorus of hard right comments in support of his view invites a comparison of the different ways in which ‘freedom’ is understood in Republican America and in Australia. One consequence of DeSantis’s conception of ‘freedom’ is the extraordinary American death rate from the Covid-19 pandemic, which in the case of Florida – which DeSantis celebrates as the ‘free-est State’ – stood at about 48 times the Australian rate when he scorned Australia as indistinguishable from communist China. Despite massive American spending on defence budgets, a domestic battle has been waged, and lost, in respect of the more prosaic defence of America’s traditional economic philosophy, and its defining institutions; and American conservatives are now divided even within their own ranks as to what it is that they wish to conserve, other than partisan […]