« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

February 2010 posts

Call for papers for book: Alternative Perspectives of a Good Society

Mark D. White




“Alternative Perspectives of a Good Society”

Editor: John Marangos

After the successful joint session of AFEE/ASE with the theme “Alternative Perspectives of a Good Society” at the ASSA meeting in Atlanta, there appears to be a need for a collection of papers to be published (with interest from Palgrave for possible inclusion in the Perspectives from Social Economics series) questioning the dominant paradigm, not only in economics, but in the society at large. The book proposal would consist of a collection of papers recruited from the joint AFEE/ASE session at the ASSA meeting and from this Call for Papers. The papers should examine and explicitly deal with issues from alternative perspectives that have been ignored by the dominant socio-economic theory and practice. The papers should examine and question the prevailing consensus and as such illustrate alternative processes to the ongoing transformation of society for the benefit of the people. The methodology adopted should be holistic, historical, dynamic and comparative in nature. Researchers should aim to use alternative perspectives in ways that go beyond traditional socio-economic theories. The focus may be, but not restricted to, alternative economic processes and policy proposals, alternative politics and institutions, the role of ideology and culture, alternative perspective of ethics, and gender issues.


Those interested should submit an extended abstract of 300-350 words by 31 March 2010 as a Word attachment. For queries and submissions contact:

John Marangos, Department of Economics
University of Crete, Rethymno, 74100, Crete, Greece
Ph: (+30) 28310-77426, Fax: (+30) 28310-77406
email: [email protected]


Ralph Nader on Citizens United

Mark D. White

You win some, you lose some. My most recent letter to the Wall Street Journal, in response to Ralph Nader and Ralph Weissman's February 11 article against the Citizens United decision, "The Case Against Corporate Speech," went unpublished (the published letters are here). For what it's worth, here's what I wrote:

I hope Messrs Nader and Weissman realize that the end of their piece on Citizens United undermines their argument against it. They write that "corporations... were meant to be our servants, not our masters." Precisely right--corporations are legal instruments that allow people to increase their wealth by providing a service that others choose to purchase. But they are also instruments through which those same people can express their political opinions, including by contributing to campaigns (or selling their stock if they disagree with a company's donations). Before Citizens United, this alternative mechanism for political speech was blocked, and the Supreme Court was correct in providing more ways for citizens to engage in the political process.

Maybe It's Just Me, But... (new Psychology Today blog)

Mark D. White

If anybody is of a mind to read things from my mind that wouldn't fit within this blog (for good reason!), you may want to visit me at my new Psychology Today blog, titled Maybe It's Just Me, But... 

My first post, titled "You're Stronger than You Think," is now up; in future posts, I plan on discussing willpower, autonomy, identity, self, happiness, character, relationships, plus ethics and economics on occasion (it's all good).

Military virtues, and gays in the military (WSJ letters)

Mark D. White

Really two separate topics here, both inspired by recent articles in the Wall Street Journal regarding the issue of gays in the U.S. armed forces.

1. The Journal is printing one of my recent letters to the editor tomorrow (Thursday, February 11) under the heading "All Society Could Use Some Military Virtues":

In Bret Stephens's "Gays in the Militaries" (Global View, Feb. 9), he makes a very profound statement that speaks to much more than the topic at hand. Regarding the military, he writes, "Its value system of duty, honor and country is very nearly the opposite of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

This perceived but false dichotomy explains so much of what is wrong with society these days. If we are to live together in any semblance of harmony, then our pursuit of happiness must be tempered by considerations of duty, honor and country. The men and women who choose to serve in the military know this and live by it; the rest of us could learn a thing or two from them.

2. As long as I'm here, here's an unpublished letter of mine from last week, actually on the issue of gays in the military (they published many letters on this piece earlier this week which together covered the same points I did):

As a lifelong supporter of our armed forces, I have the utmost respect for Mr. Owens' service and his reasoned arguments against open homosexuality in the military ("The Case Against Gays in the Military," Feb. 3). In particular, I appreciate that he does not rely on the tired argument that straight personnel will not work well alongside gay ones, one which does have direct parallels to the racial integration debates of old (which Mr. Owens rightly eschews). Yet I have to disagree with his central argument regarding inappropriate personal attachments if gays are allowed to serve openly.
While his description of the ideal state of philia among servicemen and women is inspiring, and the dangers of eros being realized in combat situations are significant, I think Mr. Owens overstates the threat of romantic or sexual love being "unleashed" if homosexuals are allowed to serve openly alongside heterosexuals. Yes, sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of who we are, gay or straight, but it does not determine our behavior. Let us trust the brave men and women who are willing and eager to risk their lives defending their country to be able to resist inappropriate impulses and focus on the mission. I think we owe them that.

Moral Values and Political Affiliation

Jonathan B. Wight

Have you ever wondered why the values of Democrats and Republicans seem so different? 

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores this issue and invites you to take his TEST hereYou'll see how your values stack up against thousands of other donkeys and elephants.  (Thanks to Jim Bacon at Bacon’s Rebellion for the link.)

Also, if you haven't seen Haidt’s TED talk, it is also well worth watching: 


“Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.”

Book watch: Elgar Companion to Adam Smith

Mark D. White

Elgar_smith From Edward Elgar comes the Elgar Companion to Adam Smith, edited by Jeff Young (St. Lawrence University), author of Economics as a Moral Science (also from Elgar, sadly out of print). The table of contents is very impressive (and features one of our own):

Jeffrey T. Young

Table of Smith’s Primary Works
Brendan Long

Smith’s Life and Major Works
Brendan Long

1. Adam Smith, the Last of the Former Virtue Ethicists
Deirdre McCloskey

2. Adam Smith and Aristotle
Gloria Vivenza

3. Agency and Discourse: Revisiting the Adam Smith Problem
Vivienne Brown

4. Adam Smith’s Theism
Brendan Long

5. Smith’s Philosophy and Economic Methodology
Sheila C. Dow

6. The Moral Philosophical Frame of Adam Smith’s Economic Thought
Jerry Evensky

7. Adam Smith, the Physiocrats and Turgot
Peter Groenewegen

8. Wants versus Needs: A Smithian Model of General Equilibrium
Amos Witztum

9. Stochastic Demand and the Extent of the Market: Another Piece of the Smith Puzzle
James M. Buchanan and Yong J. Yoon

10. Smithian Answers to Some Puzzling Results in the Experimental Literature
Maria Pia Paganelli

11. The Invisible Hand
Warren J. Samuels

12. Adam Smith and Economic Development
Salim Rashid

13. ‘In the Heat of Writing’: Polemics and the ‘Error of Adam Smith’ in the Matter of the Corn Bounty
Glenn Hueckel

14. The Mercantile System
Andrew S. Skinner

15. Jeremy Bentham and Adam Smith on the Usury Laws: A ‘Smithian’ Reply to Bentham and a New Problem
Samuel Hollander

16. ‘Only Three Duties’: Adam Smith on the Economic Role of Government
Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels

17. Adam Smith on the Standing Army versus Militia Issue: Wealth Over Virtue?
Leonidas Montes

18. Adam Smith and the Place of Faction
David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart

19. Adam Smith and the Chicago School
Steven G. Medema

Ethics-and-economics sessions at the 2010 EEA meetings

Mark D. White

I wanted to let our readership know about several ethics-oriented sessions at the upcoming Eastern Economic Association meetings (February 26-28 in Philadelphia). (I apologize for the sloppy formatting - I spent about an hour fighting with the blog editor, and in the end I conceded defeat.)

Friday, February 26, 4:00 p.m.


First of Three Sessions Sponsored by the Association for Social Economics (ASE)

Session organizer and chair: Martha Starr, American University


Inequality and Its Consequences: The Real Cost of the Economic Crisis (Steven Pressman, Monmouth College)


Teaching about the Financial Crisis (Deb Figart, Richard Stockton College)


Who Pays the Price when the Bubble Bursts? (Cynthia Bansak, Saint Lawrence University, and Martha Starr, American University)


Discussant: David George, LaSalle University



Saturday, February 27, 8:00 a.m.


Session chair: Sara T. DeLoughy, Western Connecticut State University


The Determinants of Educational Corruption: The Case of Ukraine (Philip Shaw, Fairfield University)


Organizational Values, Ethics, Social Responsibility, and Performance Outcomes: A Preliminary Look at Finance Professionals’ Survey Data (Sara T. DeLoughy, Gregory Jin, and Ron Drozdenko, Western Connecticut State University)


Discussant: Frederick Tannery, Slippery Rock University


Sunday, February 28, 10:15 a.m.


Session chair: Nancy Ruth Fox, Saint Joseph’s University


A Faith-Based “Buycott” (Nancy Ruth Fox, Saint Joseph’s University)

How Much Can Behavioral Economics Help Us Make Decisions? (Devaki Chandra)

Discussant: Brendan Kennelly, National University of Ireland, Galway


Sunday, February 28, noon


Second of Three Sessions Sponsored by the Association for Social Economics (ASE)

Session organizer: Mark D. White, College of Staten Island

Session chair: David George, LaSalle University

K. William Kapp’s Substantive-Institutional Theory of Social Costs, Environmental Policy, and Technological Development (Sebastian Berger, Roanoke College)


Behavioral vs. Standard Economics: A Methodological Assessment (Tim Brennan, University of Maryland–Baltimore County)

The Conservative Drift of Ordinary Language: The Case of Labor (David George, LaSalle University)


Discussion among participants



Sunday, February 28, 1:45 p.m.


Third of Three Sessions Sponsored by the Association for Social Economics (ASE)

Session organizer: Mark D. White, College of Staten Island

Session chair: Michael J. Murray, Central College


A Look into the Social Costs and Economic Consequences of Unemployment: A Lowe-Granovetter Synthesis (Michael J. Murray, Central College)


Theories of Money’s Origins: A Methodological Critique (Alla Semanova, Roanoke College)

Discussant: Tim Brennan, University of Maryland–Baltimore County

An Oscar nominee in my department!

Mark D. White

Please indulge me a little vicarious pleasure for a moment: Ming Xia, a political science colleague of mine at the College of Staten Island, was nominated this morning for an Academy Award for China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, an HBO documentary of which he was one of the producers. Congratulations, Ming!

UPDATE: Here is some background on Ming's involvement with this project.

Symposium on Mill's moral theory in PPE

Mark D. White

In the latest issue of Politics, Philosophy & Economics, there is a symposium on John Stuart Mill's moral theory. It seems my library no longer has access to this journal, but the articles are:

D.G. Brown,

Dale E. Miller,

Jonathan Riley,

Any comments on the articles, or the symposium as a whole, would be most welcome.

New journal: Rationality, Markets and Morals (RMM)

Mark D. White

An exciting new electronic journal named Rationality, Markets and Morals (RMM) has recently been launched by Frankfurt School Verlag. From the Editor's Note:

Rationality, Markets and Morals (RMM) is an international journal addressing issues at the intersection of philosophy and economics. Contributors are expected to approach economic problems from a philosophical point of view, to apply economic methods to the investigation of philosophical problems, or to explore the common foundations of both disciplines (see Aims and Scope for more details). Volume 0, available now, presents paradigm examples of RMM’s topical and methodological scope. It is a festschrift in honour of one of the editors, Hartmut Kliemt, who was invited to join RMM on the occasion of the festschrift’s presentation.

Owing to generous support by the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and Frankfurt School Verlag, RMM is an open access journal. Scholars and students can access and download any article without charge. We seek to keep the time from the original submission of a paper to publication in RMM as short as possible. All articles will be put online as soon as the review process is finished and the paper accepted. New articles appear at the top of the Latest Entries page. Thus, RMM will appear continuously and will not be divided up in issues. Users who subscribe to RMM will immediately be informed by email if there is a new entry in RMM (see Concept and Structure for more details).

All research articles passing an initial editor screening will be subject to rigorous double-blind peer review. In addition to original research articles, RMM will feature a discussion section with short articles and comments and a book review section. Contributions in these sections will undergo a simplified and faster review process (see Peer Review Policy for more details).

The journal boasts a very impressive editorial board, including Geoffrey Brennan, Bruno Frey, Russell Hardin, Christian List, (Nobel laureate) Elinor Ostrom, Reinhard Selten, and Horacio Spector.

Make sure to check out the papers in the initial volume, which includes papers by Robert Sugden, James Buchanan, and more.