Volume III Issue 2

Spring 2010

1. Malthus's idea of a moral and political science

Sergio Cremaschi.
This paper discusses, first, the kind of Newtonian methodology Malthus had been exposed to at Cambridge; secondly, the views on algebra and the doctrine of proportions he inherited from MacLaurin and the contribution of his colleague Bewick Bewin in devising a special role for this doctrine in the moral sciences; thirdly, Malthus's ideas on language and the reasons for rejection of an artificial language for political economy. Then it discusses his idea of political economy as a moral science and his claims to be Adam Smith's true heir. The conclusion is that Hollander is right when he contends that Malthus's and Ricardo's methods, as contrasted with their methodologies, were just two opposite poles within one spectrum, but also that the Cantabrigian and Scottish tradition provided staple for a design of a moral and political science alternative to the Unitarian and the Benthamite programs.
Section: Articles

2. Financial stability requires macroeconomic foundations of macroeconomics

Sergio Rossi.
Financial stability features prominently among the goals of several post-crisis macroeconomic policies around the world. Being a systemic characteristic, financial stability requires a systemic analysis, which only macroeconomics can offer logically. Yet, the current way of doing macroeconomics is not up to the task, as it is grounded on so-called microfoundations. Considering macroeconomics as the science of aggregating data obtained at microeconomic level can lead indeed to conclusions that are either misleading or wrong. This paper points out that the true foundations of macroeconomics are macroeconomic, and that understanding the working of monetary economies of production and exchange requires a conceptual rather than a mathematical treatment of economic issues at a systemic level.
Section: Articles

3. Towards a critical realist-inspired economic methodology

Bjørn-Ivar Davidsen.
This paper argues that critical realism conceived as a meta-theory for scientific activities offers a consistent set of helpful philosophical resources from which a potentially fruitful position of economic methodology may be developed. When fully developed, a critical realist-inspired economic methodology may in turn underlabour for more concrete scientific undertakings, economic theorising and applied analyses. Adopting such a strategy for further advancement of the critical realist project would prove a much needed supplement to, or perhaps even substitute for, the currently dominating strategy of grand scale philosophical underlabouring aimed at reorienting more or less the whole discipline of economics. The main trust of the argument made then, is that critical realism comes with a constructive and practical potential that goes beyond critiques of mainstream economics and philosophical underlabouring for already existing schools of thought within economics and that it is time for this potential to be actualised.
Section: Articles

4. Because I said so: the persistence of mainstream policy advice

Nathaniel Cline ; Kirsten Ford ; Matías Vernengo.
The current global crisis has shown the limitations of the mainstream approach. We trace the origins of the limitations of the dominant neoclassical views to the capital debates and to the rise to dominance of intertemporal general equilibrium. The limited use of the Arrow-Debreu model, which became dominant after the capital debates, in terms of policymaking, is central to understand the persistence of policy guided by the aggregative model. We use the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a case study of this perplexing continuity of policy advice. Given our survey, we conclude that even though the economy is in the midst of the worst capitalist crisis since the Great Depression, a significant paradigmatic shift in economics is extraordinarily unlikely.
Section: Articles

5. Schumpeter's theory of leadership: a brief sketch

Panayotis Michaelides ; Ourania Kardasi.
So far, it has hardly been recognized that the great Austrian thinker Joseph Alois Schumpeter had developed a general theory of leadership. In this paper, we analyze how leaders promote change by building on Schumpeter's understanding of entrepreneurial leadership which fuses the concepts of entrepreneurship and leadership. Also, we analyze Schumpeter's shift in emphasis regarding his leadership theory. Specifically, Schumpeter in his early works defined entrepreneurs as individuals whose acts have significant effects on firms. However, in his late works he seems to have realized the need to extend further the boundaries of his early approach, to account for social forces.
Section: Articles

6. The internal consistency of perfect competition

Jakob Kapeller ; Stephan Pühringer.
This article surveys some arguments brought forward in defense of the theory of perfect competition. While some critics propose that the theory of perfect competition, and thus also the theory of the firm, are logically flawed, (mainstream) economists defend their most popular textbook model by a series of apparently different arguments. Here it is examined whether these arguments are comparable, consistent and convincing from the point of view of philosophy of science.
Section: Articles

7. On technological change and stage evolution in the works of Seneca and Adam Smith

Christos Baloglou.
The present paper investigates the links that connect Seneca and Adam Smith in relation to the concept of the technological change and the evolution of society. The Roman philosopher and jurist discusses extensively the technical achievements in various factors of production which are an outcome of the division of labour. The main question concerning the fact, if all inventions stem originally from the cogitations of philosophers, or, the common workman is exposed to the manufacturing process in his daily tasks appears also in Adam Smith's thought. The analysis shows Smith's classical roots and the significance of the Roman literature.
Section: Articles

8. Commentary on black political economy

Curtis Haynes.
The task of this essay is to introduce a comprehensible study of the economic condition of a black sub-altern population in the United States. The framework is informed by the monumental contribution to the field of political economy as developed by Lloyd Hogan in his 1984, Principles of Black Political Economy. Specifically, Hogan presents political economy as: "The study of a human population under going the act of social reproduction, over a protracted period of time, under a set of rules promulgated and enforced by a political state, within a bounded geographical domain." (Hogan, p.12)
Section: Articles

9. A Review of Christian Arnsperger, Full Spectrum Economics. Towards an Inclusive and Emancipatory Social Science, Routledge, 2010, 277 pp.

Irina Zgreabãn.
Many brilliant economists today do recognize that economics need to be reformed, but the vast majority of scientific works is still captive into the absolute rigor of the Cartesian paradigm and the finery of the Newtonian models. In this context, Christian Arnsperger's book aims to be a guide in the efforts to conceptually renew economics. As part of this endeavour, he pursues ambitiously to build a new sub-discipline within the economic science-Full Spectrum economics. The writing is mainly constructed on a critical and consistent review of the philosophical principals of scientific materialism and mainstream monism, on which Western Enlightenment was built, and of the current research methodologies applied in economics and founded on these principles. Enlightenment is disregarded as being based on mathematical formalism that looks for "characteristic universalis" (Descartes), absent from real world. The book is also a struggle to holism and transdisciplinarity, being indeed an enriching experience in logics, philosophy, psychology and economics.
Section: Book reviews

10. A Review of Jean-François Ponsot and Sergio Rossi (eds), The Political Economy of Monetary Circuits: Tradition and Change in Post-Keynesian Economics, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, 264 pp.

Rémi Stellian.
Admittedly, economics first aims at solving empirical problems-for instance, what are the causes of unemployment?-and, to this purpose, it elaborates on the principles of the working of the economy. Now, this book suggests a modern conception of economics, called 'monetary analysis'. According to the latter, the fundamental principles of the working of the economy are inseparable from money, while this primacy of money entails a specific way of solving empirical problems.
Section: Book reviews