Volume XVII

Annual issue 2024 (in progress)

1. Perspectives on interpersonal utility comparisons: an analysis of selected models

Afschin Gandjour.
Recently, new models for comparing the strength of individual preferences have been proposed. This perspective article discusses these models within the context of different accounts of how people attribute mental states to others. The paper highlights that the new models share a common shortcoming with Harsanyi’s Equiprobability Model of Moral Value Judgments, which is the inability to facilitate interpersonal comparisons of preference strengths.

2. Plato, Aristotle, and Locke on the accumulation of wealth and natural law

José Luis Cendejas Bueno.
The possibility of a growing accumulation of wealth, what we now refer to as economic growth, was something already considered by Plato, Aristotle and Locke, under the concept of chrematistics. In this paper we show how the economic thinking of these authors cannot be fully understood without considering the intimate relationship they establish between politics and property accumulation. In addition to continuities and ruptures in the arguments, there can be seen a growing understanding of the phenomenon of economic growth in such a way that, when we arrive at Locke, an evident paradigm shift can be appreciated. This change is rooted in the contributions of scholastic thinking for which the acquisition of property through human labour or industry enjoys legitimacy according to natural law.

3. Agency, functionalism, and all that. A Sraffian view

Sergio Cesaratto.
Former contributions examined the approach to institutions and economic history that can be derived from the classical and Marxian 'surplus approach' as particularly recovered by Piero Sraffa (1951) and Pierangelo Garegnani (1960). The present paper deals with the allegation levelled against historical materialism-and consequently against the surplus approach to institutions-of organicism or functionalism. Organicism is said to look at individuals as passive vectors functionally serving in various capabilities the reproduction and destiny of society as a whole. In this way human agency in the operation and change of society is excluded or at least restrained. Methodological individualism is the traditional alternative supported both by neoclassical and by (some) Marxist schools. The literature over the 'agency versus structure' determination of human behaviour in social and human sciences is immense. I will therefore limit myself to some episodes that may however provide enough food for thought on this field. I shall defend a functionalist view of society while giving space to individual intentional action and aspirations, albeit informed by historical conditioning circumstances. Historical reconstruction of the objective and subjective features of the economic formations under examination, rather than the empty and a-historical study of individual choices, unrelated to the social context, looks like the way to go. Agency must be historically contextualised.