Volume VI Issue 1

Autumn 2012

1. A theory of planning horizons (2): the foundation for an ethical economics

Frederic Jennings.
The concept of planning horizons serves as a measure of many unsettled aspects of economic analysis. First and foremost, the notion is ordinal: we speak of ‘horizon effects’ as directional shifts in planning horizons without tallying ‘wits’ or calibrating horizonal axes of change. Second, the derivation of horizon effects is inductive; we simply assert their inherence in the range of factors subsumed within the imagined projections behind all choice. The planning horizon is set wherever surprise supplants expectation; the horizon occurs at the outer range of accurate anticipation, to which we lack clear epistemological access. Planning horizons – horizon effects – suggest a new foundation for an ethical economics of conscience, social maturation and growth.The idea of planning horizons invites a distinction of foresight from myopia in economic constructions. But time horizons are only one aspect of our planning horizons: to see ahead in time we must embrace all relevant causal effects. Foresight depends on knowledge of how reality actually works, which is a matter more of degree than ‘truth’; the planning horizon offers an index of our ‘rational bounds.’ Our range of anticipation is also related to our internalization of social and ecological externalities in our decisions, so to the scope of our ethical conscience and to our sense of human community. Indeed, the organizational health and integrity of our society is horizonal in this sense.The aim of this […]
Section: Articles

2. The Hegelian dialectics of global imbalances

Célestin Monga.
Traditional narratives of external imbalances have focused on the analysis of national accounts, trade flows, and financial flows. They have generated two opposing views of the current situation of the world economy: on one side, a prudent, if not pessimistic view considers large imbalances as evidence of problems with the international monetary and financial system, and symptoms of domestic distortions (mainly in the United States and China). On the other side, a relaxed, if not optimistic view suggests that global imbalances are not anomalies but simply the predictable outcome of a world with increasingly globalized financial flows in search of the right mix of risks and returns. This paper offers a critical analysis of these competing explanations of the United States-China imbalances and suggests a way of reconciling them. The paper uses Hegel’s parable of the development of self-consciousness to explain the dynamics between the two countries. Hegel may not have been a great philosopher of history but his study of lordship and bondage provides a good framework for analyzing the dialectics of recognition and acknowledgement that currently characterizes the macroeconomic relationships between the United States and China.
Section: Articles

3. Competitive markets, collective action, and the Big Box Retailer problem

Brent Beal.
I use a stylized scenario - the Big Box Retailer Problem - to demonstrate that the presence of behavioural interdependence in economic markets may result in deficient outcomes that are both stable and supported by ongoing participant behaviour. I present a theoretical discussion of social dilemmas and use the Big Box Retailer Problem to illustrate that these characteristics - stability and ongoing support - cannot be reliably employed as indicators of outcome efficiency. Equally important is the conclusion that upfront costs and the ongoing necessity of monitoring and encouraging contributory behaviour are not reliable indicators of the relative inefficiency of outcomes associated with collective action. Questions are raised regarding the ethical responsibilities of business educators and the implications of social dilemmas for corporate social responsibility research.
Section: Articles

4. Observing productivity: what it might mean to be productive when viewed through the lens of Complexity Theory

Manfred Füllsack.
The paper tries to explore options and preconditions for a theoretically thoroughly grounded conception of productivity that is able to account for its observer-dependency and thereby meets the needs of a dynamic and highly differentiated modern society. It does so in respect to insights from Cybernetics and Complexity theory, thereby taking up charges about the contradiction of economic productivity and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In respect to epistemological consequences of contemporary levels of productivity, a seemingly paradoxical constraint is put forward: the constraint that productivity is conditioned on being observed as such, with the observer in its turn being conditioned on productivity. The assumption is that this paradoxical constitution helps to keep productivity adaptive to the changes it itself incites in economy.
Section: Articles

5. Deep History: a rejoinder

David Laibman.
Section: Articles

6. Between a rock and a hard place: second thoughts on Laibman's Deep History and the theory of punctuated equilibrium with regard to intellectual evolution

Altug Yalcintas.
In this article I reconsider Laibman’s Deep History (2007) in the light of Niles Eldredge and Stephan Jay Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium. I argue that the theory of punctuated equilibrium explains (1) why conceptions of inevitability and directionality in intellectual evolution may not be as useful as Laibman thinks they are in the context of social evolution and (2) why stasis (that is, intellectual path dependence) in intellectual evolution does not allow different pathways of thought to converge.
Section: Articles

7. Review of Vito Tanzi, Government versus Markets -The Changing Economic Role of the State, New

Xavier Landes.
Section: Book reviews

8. Review of Paul Turpin, The Moral Rhetoric of Political Economy: Justice and Modern Economic Thought, Routledge, London & New York, 2011, pp. 163

Sergiu Bălan.
Section: Book reviews