Volume XV

Annual issue 2022

1. Pragmatic behaviour: pragmatism as a philosophy for behavioural economics

Pablo Garcés.
Behavioral economics offers an account of actual human behavior. Contrasting with the conventional normative approach to rationality, rational choice theory, describes the deviations from optimal decision making. These are attributed to failures in two systems, one in charge of automatic behavior (System 1) and the other responsible for reflective one (System 2). As important as this is, an elaboration of the interaction between them seems to be lacking. Philosophical pragmatism can contribute to address this want. It provides an evolutionary explanation of how people act accounting for the continuity of behavior including habitual and reflective action. The former is captured by habits and the latter directed towards objects. Additionally, it proposes a dialogical self, consisting of an interaction between the 'I', denoting impulse, and the 'me', referring to reflective action. As such, pragmatism can provide fertile ground on which to cultivate behavioral insights.

2. Kenneth Boulding: A Friends' Economist

Robert H. Scott.
This paper examines Kenneth Boulding's (1910-1993) religious beliefs and argues he was one of the most prolific religious economists in the 20 th century. He was an enigmatic economist whose career spanned over six decades. He helped to establish the field of general systems and furthered peace studies and conflict and defense. His early work earned him the John Bates Clark medal in 1949. But behind Boulding's theoretical economics was a deep religious ideology. Strongly affected by World War I while growing up in Liverpool, England, Boulding became a lifelong pacifist. Raised Methodist, Boulding discovered Quakerism in high school. While Boulding published widely in the field of economics, he also published almost 100 articles in Quaker journals. Boulding's body of work in economics and Quakerism led to interesting crosspollination. His work on peace and conflict and defense were a direct result of his pacifism. Boulding's work shows deep concern for human betterment and prosperity that is seeped in his religious principles.

3. Understanding how systemic change happens -marketisation and de-marketisation

Adam Fforde.
This paper discusses possible conceptual foundations of formal models of endogenous change processes, understood here as movements between market and non-market transactions at the level of the national economy. It links but does not merge movements of resources with shifts in the pattern of transaction types. In focussing on transaction types, it deploys insights from Commons, Coase, and Godelier, to discuss how framing transaction types as the fundamental 'thing to be explained' points to the value of choices about how activity may best be organised, which requires a general concept, which can be found in Commons' 'going concern', applicable to transactions focussing on markets or not. It entails the possibility of institutional change and shifts in the location of economic resources without formal policy change. It suggests that the main requirement for such change processes are dualistic incentive patterns that operate upon institutional choice and/or development, which derive at root from experienced contrasts between the realities of existing and normatively privileged systems, and others, normatively initially deemed inferior, that offer key actors greater economic efficiency. Moves of institutional activity from one to the other are thus conceptually processes of endogenous systemic change. System in this sense is thus viewed as a coexistence of alternatives. The motivation comes directly from consideration of two very different historical moments: endogenously driven […]

4. The apodictic method and the dialogue between theology and science (II)

Fr Petre Comșa ; Costea Munteanu.
Many present day scientists think that religion can never come to terms with science. In sharp contrast with this widespread opinion, the authors of this paper consider that, historically, scientific reasoning and religious belief joined hands in their effort to investigate and understand reality. In fact, the present-day divorce between science and religion is nothing else than the final outcome of a gradual, long-term, and deliberately assumed process of the secularization of science. However, especially during the last decades, we have all been equally confronted with the advance of a new concern that some contemporary scientists have, namely reviewing the sphere of problems specific to the domains of investigation in which they are involved while now facing themes that are usually addressed by theological thought. It can be said that this recent development is being captured by an emerging new field of investigation within the modern scientific epistemology, Science and Religion. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is threefold: firstly, to briefly emphasize that one of the defining dimensions of the science and religion dialogue is given by the discontinuity relationship in which the knowledge acquired through scientific reason is placed in relation to the divinely revealed one; secondly, to argue that another defining dimension of the dialogue consists in the hierarchical harmony relationship that mediates the encounter between the two, thus transgressing […]

5. ‘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 […]

6. 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.

7. 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 […]

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 […]

12. Review of Margherita Zanasi, Economic Thought in Modern China: Market and Consumption, c.1500–1937, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020, 252 pages, ISBN: 978-1-108-49993-4.

Jiarui Wu.

13. Review of Ralf Lüfter, The Ethics of Economic Responsibility

Toni Gibea.
Ralf Lüfter, The Ethics of Economic Responsibility, Routledge, 2020

14. Are Cultural Insights Worthy in Political Economy?: Review of Cultural Values in Political Economy, edited by J.P. Singh

Raul Morosan.
Cultural Values in Political Economy, edited by J.P. Singh, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2020, 248 p., e-book

15. Lehmann’s Analytical Inconsistencies on Liberalism and Capitalism

Ionuț Văduva.
Review of Lehmann, P.-J., Liberalism and Capitalism Today, London, Hoboken: ISTE-Wiley, 2021, 214 pp, ISBN 978-1-78630-689-0