Volume VIII Issue 1

Autumn 2014


1. Social mechanisms and social causation

Friedel Weinert.
The aim of this paper is to examine the notion of social mechanisms by comparison with the notions of evolutionary and physical mechanisms. It is argued that social mechanisms are based on trends, and not lawlike regularities, so that social mechanisms are different from mechanisms in the natural sciences. Taking as an example of social causation the abolition of the slave trade, this paper argues that social mechanisms should be incorporated in Weber's wider notion of adequate causation in order to achieve their explanatory purpose.

2. Modeling exogenous moral norms

Ross Tippit.
This paper considers the possibility of a robust and general formulation of a model of choice for the representation of a variety of moral norms. It starts by reviewing several recent models of deontological (or rule-based) norms that retain the basic elements of the economic model of choice. It briefly examines the achievements and drawbacks of each model, and while no model is identified as the most accurate or robust, the most appealing aspects of each model contribute to the construction of a tout-ensemble utility function proposed in the final section. This representation of preferences aims to incorporate the most common qualities of both consequentialist and deontological moral norms in order to represent decision making under their influence.

3. Shifting economics: fundamental questions and Amartya K. Sen's pragmatic humanism

Tara Natarajan.
Amartya K. Sen's body of work is an unrelenting project that consistently and coherently re-focuses the attention of economists and economics towards foundational questions. His capabilities framework has offered an expanded space of evaluation to directly judge the well-being of people and society. Through a detailed survey of Sen's intellectual development, his readdressing fundamental rigidities in economic methodology, and his new framework for evaluation, this paper argues that Sen has inculcated new habits of mind, and engendered a social momentum in economic thought that takes human complexity and the richness of societal diversity into account. Creating a social momentum in economic thought through refocused habits of mind can have a sustainable impact in economics only if its scope is not sub-discipline specific, if it provides an inclusive framework, and if it builds bridges within and outside the discipline chiefly between economics and moral philosophy. Sen's approach is pragmatic, courteous, and persuasive, but not divisive. It is expansive, yet contextual; it is humanistic. In Sen, economics is an inquiry into the nature and causes of human development.

4. A comment on scarcity

M Buechner.
Modern economics is based on the idea that every good and service is scarce, but the standard defenses of this premise by reference to zero prices and infinite resources are invalid. The concept of scarcity is defined and used to show that ordinary scarcities are not economic scarcities. The errors regarding scarcity are traced to the methodology of modern economics, and an alternative method is suggested for a science whose subject matter is real human beings. The concept of relative scarcity is explained, and used to illuminate some important aspects of the functioning of a market economy. Some of the consequences are identified for economics if economists recognized that universal scarcity is not a fact.

5. Commentary on secrets of economics editors: an unintended ethnography of economics

Utku Balaban.

6. Review of Jérôme Ballet, Damien Bazin, Jean-Luc Dubois, and François-Régis Mahieu, Freedom, Responsibility and Economics of the Person, London, Routledge, ebk, 2014, 174 pp., ISBN 978-0-203-79633-7

Carmen Dorobăţ.

7. Review of Joseph E. Stiglitz and Bruce C. Greenwald, Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development and Social Progress, New York, Columbia University Press, 2014, hb, 34.95$, 680 pp., ISBN 978-0-231-15214-3

Alina Toarna.