Volume V Issue 1

Autumn 2011


1. Ethics and economics, today and in the past

James Alvey.
Economics was traditionally viewed as part of a wider study of human things, including ethics. It has drifted away from ethics despite the fact that ethical considerations inevitably form part of economics. After a brief introduction, the second section outlines the state of play in the economics discipline. The third section deals with the ethical crisis of economics today. The fourth section presents two grand narratives of ethics and economics. The fifth section sketches Amartya Sen's critique of the mainstream and his alternative approach to economics. The sixth section provides some concluding comments.

2. From the search for natural laws to the discovery of contingent rules in economics

Nicolas Postel.
In this article, the author defends the idea that one of the positive results of modern economic analysis is the conviction that there is no natural law in economics. Thus, the most thorough scientific research which has tried to provide an analytical foundation for the mythical invisible hand, the "general equilibrium paradigm," has finally shown that such an equilibration process cannot be formally demonstrated. Hence, we can say that economists cannot demonstrate the existence of a law of "supply and demand" but, more simply, can assert that some causal but contingent relations may exist between price, supply and demand. According to this result, the critical approach of Kenneth John Arrow concludes with the necessity of social and moral rule (for the good functioning of the market). It is, thus, necessary to assume the contingent nature of economic rules, and the absence of natural law, and consequently, to modify economists' theoretical model.

3. Finance contemporaine et postmodernisme: l’expression d’un capitalisme tardif

Christophe Schinckus.
This paper shows that the evolution of financial markets implies some features of the postmodernism, as for example, the emergence of a hyperreality or an over-exaggeration of the exchange. Computerization contributed to the development of what Baudrillard called a hyper-reality in which financial quotations are self-referent, i.e. they do not refer to an economic reality. Finance is now in post-modernity and this essay offers an analysis of this financial post-modernity.

4. The Christian ethics of socio­economic development promoted by the Catholic Social Teaching

Edgardo Bucciarelli ; Nicola Mattoscio ; Tony Persico.
This paper highlights the relationship between economic science and Christian moral in order to analyze the idea of socioeconomic development promoted by the Catholic Social Teaching (CST). In the first period leading up to the Second Vatican Council (1891-1962), from Pope Leo XIII to Pope John XXIII, the idea of development was connected both to technical and industrial progress, and to the universal values of justice, charity, and truth, which national communities were asked to follow. During the Conciliar period (1962-1979), the concept of development assumes a social and economic dimension, and so it becomes one of the main pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, which introduces the earliest definition of integral human development. Ultimately, in the post-Conciliar phase (1979-2009) including Benedict XVI's pontificate, the idea of integral human development reaches its maturity by incorporating the complexity of real-world economic interactions. Finally, this paper shows how the ethics bolstered by the Catholic Social Teaching is characterized by two distinct but complementary lines of thought: moral rules for both political action, and for socioeconomic issues.

5. An inquiry into the explanatory virtues of transaction cost economics

Lukasz Hardt.
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we offer a methodological reflection on how the explanatory virtues of economic theories can be assessed in a systematic way. Second, we use that theoretical apparatus to study the explanatory virtues of Transaction Cost Economics (TCE, henceforth). Precisely, we are primarily interested in assessing the progress within TCE with respect to its explanatory power rather than directly comparing TCE's explanatory virtues to alternative theories. The paper offers also some general insights into the way we compare economic theories.

6. Implications of the Foucauldian decentralization of economics

Zulfiqar Ali.
This essay aims to explore Foucault's project of decentralizing economics and to hint on some implications. It also makes a comparative analysis between Foucault's project and the projects similar to his design and aim. I argue that Foucault's critique of the idea of economics as a science is stronger than that of the critiques which challenge the status of economics as a science by exposing its deep fictional, literary or narrative content and style. I argue that the strength of Foucault's decentralization project lies in the fact that he does not refer to the discursive content of economics in order to demonstrate that it is not a science. Instead, he unveils its epistemological conditions the character of which deeply haunts the sketch of economics as a science. Foucault undertakes decentralization both at the formal and historical level. At the formal level he shows that there are underlying epistemological conditions that govern the formation of discourses including economics in the West. At the historical level he demonstrates that there is no trace of economics up to the eighteenth century in the West. This fact, that economics is governed by modern Western epistemological conditions, encourages me to question the aim of teaching economics in societies such as Pakistan which are not part of the Western civilization.

7. Review essay on David Laibman, Deep History: A Study in Social Evolution and Human Potential

Altug Yalcintas.
While historical materialism and evolutionism provide similar explanations and ideas regarding the cause of long-term social change, the two theories are rarely used in conjunction with one another. In Deep History, the author David Laibman addresses some of the standard questions of evolutionary social theory and attempts to bridge the two concepts, by showing that historical and materialist explanations are present in both Marxian and evolutionary interpretations of history. His goal: develop a Marxist theory of history from an evolutionist perspective, and surmount the traditional confines of historical materialism, so as to embrace evolutionary conceptions in explaining social change. However, the unbalanced research methodology limits the reach and depth of Laibman's contribution. The two main shortcomings of his work are discussed in the following sections: The Audience Problem and The Evolutionary Problem.