The Journal of Philosophical Economics: Reflections on Economic and Social Issues

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The Journal of Philosophical Economics
Volume II Issue 1 (Autumn 2008)
Editor: Valentin Cojanu

ISSN: 1843-2298
EISSN: 1844-8208
Publication date: 20 November 2008
Paper format: 16.5x23.5 cm
Copyright note: This is an open access e-journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication.

ARTICLES
Incentives and reflective equilibrium in distributive justice debates (Julian LAMONT)
Abstract: For the last thirty years one of the dominant economic policies has been the cutting of the top marginal tax rates. While this policy has been partly motivated by the self-interest of high income earners, it also has had considerable theoretical support from a wide range of distributive justice theorists starting with John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice in 1971. Rawls argued that if the incentives created by inequality maximized the position of the least advantaged then they were morally justified. There have been many variants of this position since. The most common theme of them is that incentives to work harder and innovate, although creating inequality, are morally justified because of the greater good generated by the resultant increase in GDP. The main policy instrument available to governments to create such incentive has been the cutting of the top marginal income rates and this has been done systematically across all industrialized nations.
The method of wide reflective equilibrium requires us to use the best consensus from economics in our reasoning about distributive justice. The systematic cutting of tax rates over thirty years has provided a reasonable experiment on the thesis that such cutting provides an overall increased labor supply and resultant increase in GDP. The suggestion of this paper is that a reasonable consensus can now be reached that, over the ranges of inequality and GDP that we have had over the last 50 years and are likely to have over the next 50 years, such incentives do not provide the claimed benefits. Hence, we are getting increased inequality for no compensating benefit. Read the article ...
The knowledge economy/society: the latest example of “Measurement without theory”? (Les OXLEY, Paul WALKER, David THORNS, Hong WANG)
Abstract: The world has embraced a set of concepts (knowledge driven growth) which are seen as the ‘core of future growth and wellbeing’ without any commonly agreed notion of what they are, how they might be measured, and crucially therefore, how they actually do (or might) affect economic growth and social wellbeing. The theory of how the mechanism works lacks important detail. Read the article ...
Methodology and the practice of economists – a philosophical approach (Bjørn-Ivar DAVIDSEN)
Abstract: Practicing academic economists are reported to pay little attention to work being done by economic methodologists. This is an unfortunate situation for the sub­field of economic methodology as well as for the discipline of economics at large. If the sub­field of economic methodology does not succeed in communicating with practitioners of the larger discipline of which it is a part, its rationale is seriously brought into question. And when practitioners of a scientific discipline do not pay heed to methodological questions, the discipline is destined to stagnation and possible degeneration.
In order to contribute to an amelioration of the noted unfortunate state of affairs, this paper argues the case for purposeful philosophically informed approaches through which economic methodologists may prove themselves helpful and valuable to the practitioners of the discipline. A scheme of descriptive­critical analyses of economic texts is set forth as a means of enhancing academic economists’ awareness of, and interest in, philosophical questions embedded in, and vital to, their practices. Moreover, it is argued, and exemplified, how philosophically minded methodologists may contribute constructively to processes directed towards establishing and developing economic theories and analyses. Read the article ...
„Social embeddedness”: how new economic sociology goes into the offensive and meets the own roots (Dieter BÖGENHOLD)
Abstract: The argument of social embeddedness has become one of the most celebrated metaphors in economic sociology. The attempt connected to that term is the elaboration of a solid basis for economic sociology as discipline within the concert of economics and further social sciences. The paper argues that the embeddedness argument is strategically on a necessary way to highlight the academic importance of institutional and sociological thought for debating phenomena of economic life since, as it is argued within the paper, such ambitions meet also very clearly with recent tendencies within economics which are commonly considered to be tendencies towards heterodox economics. Aim of the paper is to embed such discussion within a broader history of economic and sociological thought in order to demonstrate that recent developments meet with elements of discussion which were already used by classical authors at the beginning of the 20th century. In this respect a lot of the recent offensive of economic sociology meets with classical bases of its own academic development which seems to have become hidden or partly forgotten. Read the article ...
Not anything goes: a case for a restricted pluralism (Gustavo MARQUÉS, Diego WEISMAN)
Abstract: The current discussion on theoretical and methodological pluralism is plagued with confusions and misunderstandings. Some problems arise because an appropriate framework for conducting a fruitful discussion about these issues is still lacking. Many other problems derive from the fact that a rational pluralist should be both tolerant with the many different points of view and able to discriminate among them. In the first and second sections we use some of Mäki’s ideas for developing a general framework for discussing pluralism and apply it to the ongoing debate on theoretical and methodological pluralism, showing its strong compromise with demarcationism. In the third section a looser framework for approaching pluralism is outlined, and a detailed discussion of Caldwell’s critical pluralism is conducted, pointing out its achievements and some of its shortcomings. The fourth section provides an outline of what a sound notion of restricted pluralism should encompass for avoiding “anything goes”. Read the article ...
Book review: Gilles Dostaler, Keynes and his battles, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, 2007, 384 pages (Mircea T. MANIU) Read the article ...
Book review: Cristina Neesham, Human and social progress: projects and perspectives, VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken, 2008, 220 pages (James MOULDER) Read the article ...
Book review: Akop P. Nazaretyan, Anthropology of violence and culture of self-organization. Essays in evolutionary historical psychology, 2nd edition, Moscow, URSS, 2008, 256 pages (in Russian) (Andrey KOROTAYEV) Read the article ...
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