Volume I Issue 1

Autumn 2007

1. Economics, the Structures of Knowledge, and the Quest for a More Substantively Rational World

Richard Lee.
The "structures of knowledge" designates the long-term intellectual and institutional division in knowledge production, the arena of cognition and intentionality (the "socio-cultural") that we recognize as the relational hierarchy between the sciences and the humanities, or the "two cultures", and it is just as integral to the development of the modern world as the realms of material production and distribution (the "economic") or of decision making and coercion (the "political"). The modern discipline of economics emerged from a medium-term restructuring of the structures of knowledge in the late nineteenth century along with the other, multiple, social sciences between the sciences and the humanities each with proprietary subject matters, theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches. The contemporary crisis in the field of knowledge production is part of the overall exhaustion of the processes reproducing the structures of the modern world-system. Contemporary economics in this "far-from-equilibrium" world should be well placed to contribute to an understanding of the alternative futures available today. But this would entail a reexamination of its inherited theoretical approaches and methodological practices.
Section: Articles

2. European Historical Economics and Globalisation

James Foreman-Peck.
Globalisation is here considered as the increasing specialisation or complexity that accompanies extension of spatially limited markets to include larger and larger sections of the world. To the extent that the enlargement of one market brings contact with others, the process is one of market integration. This paper focuses on two millennia of globalisation so defined, from the perspective of the European economies. It shows that there have been several waves of globalisation linked with rising productivity and prosperity, followed by long economic contractions. Expansions took place within new frameworks for internal and external security and the disintegration of these regimes typically reversed the process. Higher incomes were the reward for accepting the greater vulnerability of stronger interdependency.
Section: Articles

3. On Ethics and the Economics of Development

Mozaffar Qizilbash.
This paper examines the implications of some of the growing literature at the borderline of ethics and economics for development debates. It argues that this literature has already had considerable impact on development economics, particularly as a result of work on well-being and capabilities. Other areas where there has been considerable growth include population ethics and the area which explores the link between the contractarian tradition in moral philosophy and game theory. Work here has had less impact on development economics, and there is considerable scope for more work. Finally, both ethics and economics have been criticised for taking too abstract a view of human beings. Each has begun to take on this line of criticism and work which responds to it in various ways - such as by taking account of issues relating to identity, allowing for hard choices and fuzziness - is relevant to development.
Section: Articles

4. Globalisation, the state and economic justice

Mark Beeson.
This paper explores the potential for states to act as agents of economic justice in an era of 'globalisation'. After providing a critical review of debates about both economic justice and globalisation, the paper suggests that states retain an important degree of policy-making autonomy-should they care to exercise it. Following this I make a rather unfashionable argument which claims that, if economic justice is actually to be achieved in the contemporary era, it may be up to states to provide it. For the current structures of global governance are not only often ineffective, but they may actually entrench inequality and injustice. In the absence of a just global order, individual states may have to rely on their own efforts to achieve what economic equality they can.
Section: Articles

5. From a 'Moral Philosopher' to a 'Poor' Economist

Soumitra Sharma.
The roots of modern 'Economics' are deeply buried in the moral and political philosophy of the ancient philosophers. The journey of an economist from the pedestal of a 'moral philosopher' to a state of 'poor economist' is rather long. Through the Middle Ages the 'natural law' approach to economics and sociology held firm. The 'socio-economic rationalism' of the Stoics helped this approach to develop into a 'social science' that later took the form of 'moral philosophy' of the 18 th century philosophers. Since then Economics has been enriched by scientific thought of many. While Marshall and his Principles made the study of Economics popular at universities, Keynes provided a theoretical platform to the governments for their full employment policies ensuring an unprecedented economic growth for a quarter century during the postwar years. For more than a century now Economics has witnessed tremendous progress in methods and contents. Unfortunately, over the last two decades it has come under fire. Is there a new transformation underway or Economics has lost its lustre? This short essay tries to address some of such issues.
Section: Articles

6. Developmental Freedom and Social Order: Rethinking the Relation between Work and Equality

Louise Haagh.
This essay points to an institutional account of our existential interest in work as a missing piece in welfare analysis. In contrast with social liberals in the postwar era, both liberal economic and egalitarian discourses today espouse a narrowly atomistic account of human nature and the modern economy. Therefore they are unable to take account of the institutional bases of economic development, individual autonomy and social order, and the way these connect. The essay shows that a patterning of distributional outcomes is a reality in both deregulated and densely governed capitalist economies, but that only the latter offers real scope for social and individual choice. The influence of the atomistic account on liberal egalitarian thought however has produced an unambitious, imprecise, and in the case of welfare contractualism, a coercive, account of both individual freedom and social community. What is needed is a more explicit inclusion of a temporal dimension in welfare and economic analysis and a more differentiated framework of pluralist governance.
Section: Articles