Posts by Mark D. White

New issue of Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics (Winter 2021)

Erasmus journalBy Mark D. White

A new issue of the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics was recently published (open-access), and as usual it contains quite a few articles of interest to this blog.

The entire table of contents can be found at the link above, so here I'll simply point out the opening three articles...

"Choosing Less over More Money The Love of Praiseworthiness and the Dread of Blameworthiness in One-Player Games" by Nina Serdarevic

"Social Contract, Extended Goodness, and Moral Disagreement," by Cyril Hédoin

"Integrated Moral Agency and the Practical Phenomenon of Moral Diversity," by Michael Moehler

...as well as the symposium on identity in economics (by Jean-Paul Carvalho, John B. Davis, and others) and a fantastic interview with Ian Carter (A Measure of Freedom).


Call for papers: Symposium on the Economists’ Philosophy Day, November 17, 2022

J phil econ logoBy Mark D. White

Courtesy of Peter Galbács' blog, we have an intriguing announcement—note the deadline for submissions is April 23, 2022.

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Call for a Symposium on the Economists’ Philosophy Day, 17 Nov. 2022

In October 2005, the UNESCO General Conference proclaimed the third Thursday of November every year “World Philosophy Day” recalling that “philosophy is a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace.”

It is in this spirit that J Phil Econ proposes to celebrate an Economists’ Philosophy Day by organizing an online plenary session of scientific communications dedicated to the philosophical landmarks through which our science has been challenged, for better or worse. Our call invites all those interested in the study of social sciences to contribute not only to the thinking inspired from enduring ideas of philosophy, but also to the way in which they have been adopted, adapted, or made known to advance theoretical and applied research.

A preceding symposium opened a debate on the way economists are taught philosophy. The contributors left thoughtful suggestions for advancing an economic science which is appropriate for understanding the progress or regress of humankind’s material life. We continue this discussion and place it on the hopefully permanent platform of celebrating the day of philosophy.

Proposals of approx. 500 words are expected by April 23, 2022. After acceptance, authors are invited to submit the full version of their study for peer-review by August 25, 2022. Proposals will be sent to editor@jpe.ro.

Organizers: Valentin Cojanu, Editor, Journal of Philosophical Economics, and Oana Camelia Serban, Executive Director, Research Center for the History and Circulation of Philosophical Ideas


Call for papers: Association for Social Economics at ASSA in New Orleans, January 6-8, 2023,

ASE-logoBy Mark D. White

The Association for Social Economics has released the call for papers, courtesy of president-elect Darrick Hamilton, for its sessions at next January's ASSA meeting in New Orleans.

The details are below; note that the deadline for submissions is May 6.

 

ASE at the ASSA 2023The Inseparability of Economics, Politics and Social Stratificationin Understanding Moral Political EconomyJanuary 6-8, 2023 New Orleans, LA - Hilton Riverside 
The framing of economics as a “science,” presents the innuendo of a purity devoid of politics. Yet, from Marxist to Public Choice ideologies, economics, politics and social stratification (as measured by class, race, gender, nativity, etc.) has never been separable.  Across the globe and throughout history, people have lived in environments of reinforcing inequalities, vulnerabilities, and obstacles to social mobility. The list of despair includes: wealth and income disparity; unemployment and underemployment; differential exposure to economic downturns; vulnerability to predatory finance; intergenerational transfers of poverty and exclusion from affluence; increasing demands for care work and in-vivo transfers; food insecurity; environmental injustice, and vulnerability to climate fluctuation, pandemic,  and “natural” disaster; and the physical and mental harm resulting from socio-psychological stress. These vulnerabilities are more pronounced for economically marginalized and socially stigmatized social groups. The vulnerabilities disproportionately fall on women, Black people and individuals belonging to other subaltern groups.  As inequality continues to grow, both within and across nation-states, this call is a charge to the economics profession to move beyond the neoliberal framing that centers markets and individual choice devoid of adequate understanding of resource, power and distribution towards a new thinking related to a more “moral” and fair political economy grounded in shared prosperity.  For instance, from the 1960’s, led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to now, led by the Reverends William Barber II and Liz Theoharis, the Poor People’s Campaign has always emphasized economic justice as a moral imperative.  For the ASE sessions of the 2023 ASSA meetings, we welcome proposals for papers/sessions on all aspects of social economics, but preference will be given to papers that address the 2023 theme described above. Possible questions to consider but are not limited to: 
  • The conception of a “moral” political economy
  • The role of race, gender or other identity-group stratification as they relate to production, consumption and/or distribution
  • Beyond revenue collection, the role of the taxation in fostering economic inclusion and social equity in either domestic or international contexts
  • Political philosophy of economic rights and moral economies
  • Economic inequality and the erosion of democracy
  • Macroeconomic understandings of risk, inequality and vulnerability
  • The economics of race, politics, and social stratification
  • Measuring economic value beyond conventional indicators of growth
  • The role of money and monetary policy in facilitating economic inclusion 
  • Economic vulnerabilities to environmental risk, pandemic and “natural” disaster
  • The roles of data and technology as they relate to economic empowerment vs exploitation
Proposals for papers as well as complete sessions are welcome. The submission deadline is May 6, 2022.   Submission guidelines:Paper proposals should include: 1) author name, affiliation, and contact information, and 2) title and abstract of proposed papers (250-word limit). Session proposals should include: 1) session title and abstract (250-word limit), 2) name, affiliation, and contact information of session organizers, 3) titles and abstracts of proposed papers (250 word limit each). Questions, as well as paper and session submissions should be sent to Darrick Hamilton (HamiltoD@newschool.edu) with a copy to Grieve Chelwa (chelwag@newschool.edu) by May 6, 2022. Individuals whose papers are accepted for presentation must either be or become members of the Association for Social Economics by July 1, 2022 in order for the paper to be included in the program. Membership information can be found at www.socialeconomics.org. All papers presented at the ASSA meetings are eligible for the Warren Samuels Prize, awarded to the best paper that advances the goals of social economics and has widespread appeal. Papers can also be considered for a special issue of one of the association’s journals, or for edited volumes.Note: Due to limited session slots, we unfortunately cannot accept all submissions. Papers and sessions not accepted for the ASE program will be automatically considered for the ASE portion of the ICAPE conference, which will be held right before the ASSA meetings. See icape.org for details.

Recent work on the issue of corporate personhood

Corporate personhoodBy Mark D. White

Forthcoming in Law and Society Review is David Gindis' review of Susanna Kim Ripken's book Corporate Personhood, both of which emphasize the complexity of the concept itself, wrapped up as it is in economics and ethics as well as law, political science, and sociology. From Gindis' abstract:

Susanna Ripken is an astute and fair-minded observer of today's corporate personality controversy. The premise of her impressive book is that the corporate personhood puzzle is as complicated as it is vexing because corporate personhood is inherently multidimensional, in a way that mirrors the fact that the corporation is at the same time an economic institution, a legal actor, a cultural artifact, and a political operator, whose actions can be morally praised or condemned. To produce a comprehensive picture of the corporation we need to weave together the different facets highlighted by economics, law, sociology, political science, philosophy, ethics, and other disciplines. So too must we proceed, Ripken persuasively argues, when dealing with corporate personhood. No single discipline is in a position to answer all the important questions corporate personhood raises. An interdisciplinary conversation is required.

The abstract for Ripken's book itself follows:

The topic of corporate personhood has captured the attention of many who are concerned about the increasing presence, power, and influence of corporations in modern society. Recent Supreme Court cases like Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, and Masterpiece Cakeshop - which solidified the free speech and religious liberty rights of corporations and their owners - have heightened the controversy over treating corporations as persons under the law. What does it mean to say that the corporation is a person, and why does it matter? In Corporate Personhood, Susanna Kim Ripken addresses these questions and highlights the complexity of the corporate personhood concept. Using a broad, interdisciplinary framework - incorporating law, economics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, organizational theory, political science, and linguistics - this highly original work explores the complex, multidimensional nature of corporate personhood and its implications for corporate rights and duties.

Readers may also be interested in a recent paper by David Gindis and Abraham Singer titled "The Corporate Baby in the Bathwater: Why Proposals to Abolish Corporate Personhood Are Misguided," forthcoming in Journal of Business Ethics:

The fear that business corporations have claimed unwarranted constitutional protections which have entrenched corporate power has produced a broad social movement demanding that constitutional rights be restricted to human beings and corporate personhood be abolished. We develop a critique of these proposals organized around the three salient rationales we identify in the accompanying narrative, which we argue reflect a narrow focus on large business corporations, a misunderstanding of the legal concept of personhood, and a failure to distinguish different kinds of constitutional rights and the reasons for assigning them. Corporate personhood and corporate constitutional rights are not problematic per se once these notions are decoupled from biological, metaphysical or moral considerations. The real challenge is that we need a principled way of thinking about the priority of human over corporate persons which does not reduce the efficacy of corporate institutions or harm liberal democracies.


Lisa Herzog on "The Epistemic Seduction of Markets" (in The Raven)

RavenBy Mark D. White

In the inaugural issue of The Raven, a literary philosophy magazine*, Lisa Herzog (University of Groningen) combines academic expertise and personal history to scrutinize knowledge-based arguments for the market in "The Epistemic Seduction of Markets." From the end of her introduction:

I have concluded that the epistemic argument for markets needs to be heavily qualified, if not put on its head: it is not an argument for “free” markets but for the careful regulation of markets. The “invisible hand” can only, if ever, do its work on material that has been diligently prepared, and continues to be monitored, by many visible hands. Otherwise, the result may be a mere chimera of the epistemic mechanism that I learned about when studying economics: it may seem to work fine on the surface but fail to realize the goals it is supposed to achieve, such as genuine preference satisfaction and the avoidance of inefficient economic behavior. This misleading image of the market can keep us trapped when we think about institutional design, inserting a pro-market bias instead of allowing for an objective evaluation of alternatives. And given the need to redesign many economic institutions in the face of climate change and massive socio-economic inequality, we cannot afford to be held captive by a picture, as Wittgenstein had once put it.

An intriguing read, and just one part of an encouraging start for a unique new publication.

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* From the "About" page on their website:

The Raven is a magazine of original philosophy written for intellectually curious readers with or without academic training in the discipline. It aims to revive an essayistic style of philosophy that was more common in academic venues as recently as thirty years ago but has gradually disappeared — that is, to publish contributions to the “literature” that deserve to be called literature.


Alexandrova and Fabian on the challenge of thick concepts for science

Eur jrnl phil scienceBy Mark D. White

An article forthcoming in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science by Anna Alexandrova and Mark Fabian, titled "Democratising Measurement: or Why Thick Concepts Call for Coproduction," discusses the issues that thick concepts, those that involve both description and evaluation, pose for the sciences, using well-being as an example, and proposes a novel way to recognize both aspects.

From the abstract:

Thick concepts, namely those concepts that describe and evaluate simultaneously, present a challenge to science. Since science does not have a monopoly on value judgments, what is responsible research involving such concepts? Using measurement of wellbeing as an example, we first present the options open to researchers wishing to study phenomena denoted by such concepts. We argue that while it is possible to treat these concepts as technical terms, or to make the relevant value judgment in-house, the responsible thing to do, especially in the context of public policy, is to make this value judgment through a legitimate political process that includes all the stakeholders of this research. We then develop a participatory model of measurement based on the ideal of co-production. To show that this model is feasible and realistic, we illustrate it with a case study of co-production of a concept of thriving conducted by the authors in collaboration with a UK anti-poverty charity Turn2us.

Fabian has an excellent Twitter thread tracing out some of the central concepts and findings of the paper here:


Igersheim on Rawls and economics

RawlsBy Mark D. White

A new working paper from Herrade Igersheim (BETA, University of Strasbourg, CNRS, University of Lorraine) titled "Rawls and the Economists: The (Im)possible Dialogue" offers a unique perspective on the relationship between the great philosopher and the field that would adopt his thinking. From the abstract:

Although falling within the scope of political and moral philosophy, it is well known that A Theory of Justice has also had a great impact on economists. As such, Rawls put great emphasis on his desire to combine economics and philosophy, and particularly to deal with rational choice theory, notably and famously claiming that “the theory of justice is a part, perhaps the most significant part, of the theory of rational choice” (1971, 15). After the publication of A Theory of Justice, aspects of it came in for criticism – often very vehement – by economists such as Arrow (1973), Musgrave (1974), Harsanyi (1975) and later by Sen (1980). Rawls’s immediate answers (1974a,b in particular) showed that he first wanted to maintain a dialogue with the economists, but the later evolutions of his works (1993, 2001) clearly demonstrated that he had removed himself from the economic realm, returning to his initial philosophical territory in order to overcome the internal inconsistencies of A Theory of Justice. In this paper, by focusing extensively on the letter exchanges between Rawls and the economists before and after the publication of A Theory of Justice, I attempt to shed light on other (complementary) elements which can explain Rawls’s retreat from the realm of economics, and his progressive disenchantment regarding the possibility of a dialogue on equal footing between economists and philosophers.


New book: Heilmann and Reiss (eds), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics

Routledge handbook of phil of econBy Mark D. White

Just released is The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics, edited by Conrad Heilmann and Julian Reiss. From the publisher's website:

The most fundamental questions of economics are often philosophical in nature, and philosophers have, since the very beginning of Western philosophy, asked many questions that current observers would identify as economic. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Economics is an outstanding reference source for the key topics, problems, and debates at the intersection of philosophical and economic inquiry. It captures this field of countless exciting interconnections, affinities, and opportunities for cross-fertilization.

The table of contents is reproduced below—I was honored to be invited to contribute a chapter, which appears in Part IV.

1. Introduction  Conrad Heilmann and Julian Reiss

Part I: Rationality

2. History of Utility Theory  Ivan Moscati

3. The Economics and Philosophy of Risk  H. Orri Stefánsson

4. Behavioral Welfare Economics and Consumer Sovereignty  Guilhem Lecouteux

5. The Economic Concept of a Preference  Kate Vredenburgh

6. Economic Agency and the Subpersonal Turn in Economics  James D. Grayot

Part II: Cooperation and Interaction

7. Game Theory and Rational Reasoning  Jurgis Karpus and Mantas Radzvilas

8. Institutions, Rationality, and Coordination  Camilla Colombo and Francesco Guala

9. As If Social Preference Models  Jack Vromen

10. Exploitation and Consumption  Benjamin Ferguson

Part III: Methodology

11. Philosophy of Economics? Three Decades of Bibliometric History  Francois Claveau, Alexandre Truc, Olivier Santerre, and Luis Mireles-Flores

12. Philosophy of Austrian Economics  Alexander Linsbichler

13. Representation  Hsiang Ke-Chao

14. Finance and Financial Economics: A Philosophy of Science Perspective  Melissa Vergara-Fernández and Boudewijn de Bruin

Part IV: Values

15. Values in Welfare Economics  Antoinette Baujard

16. Measurement and Value Judgements  Julian Reiss

17. Reflections on the State of Economics and Ethics  Mark D. White

18. Well-Being  Mauro Rossi

19. Fairness and Fair Division  Stefan Wintein and Conrad Heilmann

Part V: Causality and Explanation

20. Causality and Probability  Tobias Henschen

21. Causal Contributions in Economics  Christopher Clarke

22. Explanation in Economics  Philippe Verreault-Julien

23. Modeling the Possible to Modeling the Actual  Jennifer S. Jhun

Part VI: Experimentation and Simulation

24. Experimentation in Economics  Michiru Nagatsu

25. Field Experiments  Judith Favereau

26. Computer Simulations in Economics  Aki Lehtinen and Jaakko Kuorikoski

27. Evidence-Based Policy  Donal Khosrowi

Part VII: Evidence

28. Economic Theory and Empirical Science  Robert Northcott

29. Philosophy of Econometrics  Aris Spanos

30. Statistical Significance Testing in Economics  William Peden and Jan Sprenger

31. Quantifying Health  Daniel M. Hausman

Part VIII: Policy

32. Freedoms, Political Economy, and Liberalism  Sebastiano Bavetta

33. Freedom and Markets  Constanze Binder

34. Policy Evaluation Under Severe Uncertainty: A Cautious, Egalitarian Approach  Alex Voorhoeve

35. Behavioral Public Policy: One Name, Many Types. A Mechanistic Perspective  Till Grüne-Yanoff

36. The Case for Regulating Tax Competition  Peter Dietsch


Conference announcement: Markets and Society (October 21-24, 2022)

Markets and societyBy Mark D. White

The F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Mercatus Center, George Mason University) has announced an intriguing conference for next October. From the announcement:

The Markets & Society Conference aims to bring together scholars, students, and practitioners from various disciplines, ideological perspectives, and backgrounds who seek to advance inquiry, contestation, and research of consequence that are grounded in mainline political economy. This tradition posits that through emergent orders, formal and informal institutions, and the ability to learn from errors, humans can and often do find ways to live better together. Research in this tradition examines governance, resilience, and cooperation as well as the burdens, biases, and injustices that result from human interaction and institutions. Multiple disciplines, methods, and strategies are needed to examine the complexities of social life, ranging from analyzing the economic, political, and social consequences of institutions; understanding and reexamining history; assessing policies that attempt to stymie or encourage particular outcomes; and examining issues of morality and justice.

See the announcement for more details—the deadline for abstracts is March 1, 2022.


Ricardo Crespo on teaching the philosophy behind economics to economists (at Journal of Philosophical Economics)

J of phil econBy Mark D. White

In the latest issue of the Journal of Philosophical Economics (14/1-2, Spring-Autumn 2021), Ricardo Crespo (IAE) shares his reflections on "Teaching the Philosophical Grounding of Economics to Economists: A 10 Years' Experience." He describes his rationale below:

Looking at the possibilities of the new currents mentioned above – behavioural economics, neuroeconomics, evolutionary economics, happiness economics, civil economy, and the capability approach – proves highly attractive for students. This is an effective way to introduce philosophy because it is easy to understand that these plural economic approaches are supported by philosophical underpinnings, different epistemological perspectives, and views on human nature and the social world. However, a deep analysis of these new fields (which I undertook in my 2017 book) reveals that not all of them ‘escape’ from the narrow outlook that characterizes current economics. As John Davis points out (2008, p. 365),

economics, as other sciences, has regularly imported other science contents in the past, and having subsequently “domesticated” them, remade itself still as economics. In the current situation, for example, behavioral economics – a research program in economics, not in psychology – employs imports from psychology but frames them in terms of economic concerns.

Exploring the attitudes of economics towards these new possibilities – open or ‘colonialist’ – helps to differentiate them and to discover their philosophical roots. Thus, this analysis shows the influence of underlying philosophical notions on economic theories. (pp. 219-220)