May 04, 2004

Note: Office Hours: Future Reading Courses: Economics and Philosophy

A plea from an undergrad: will Berkeley ever teach an undergraduate "Economics and Philosophy" class? I can see which way this is going: I'm going to wind up running a reading course. What should be on an "Economics and Philosophy" reading list?

  • Jacques Le Goff, Your Money or Your Life: Economy and Religion in the Middle Ages.
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, selections.
  • John Locke, Second Treatise of Government.
  • Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
  • Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
  • Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation.
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.
  • Hal Varian, Intermediate Microeconomics (chs. 29-35).
  • Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty.
  • Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
  • James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent.
  • John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness."
  • Kenneth Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values.
  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom.
  • David Gauthier, “The Social Contract as Ideology”, Philosophy and Public Affairs.
  • Jon Elster, “The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory”, in Elster and Hylland, eds., Foundations of Social Choice Theory.
  • Bernard Williams, “The Idea of Equality”, Philosophy , Politics and Society 2nd Series.
  • Amartya Sen, Equality of What?.
  • Steven Shavell, Economic Analysis of Welfare Economics, Morality and the Law.
  • Tibor Scitovsky, The Joyless Economy.
  • William Baumol, Welfare Economics and the Theory of the State.

Posted by DeLong at May 4, 2004 10:54 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

Something by Marx deserves to be on this list.

Posted by: elliottg on May 4, 2004 11:06 AM

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Any suggestions for a good book that surveys the above?

Posted by: George Williams on May 4, 2004 11:13 AM

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Even though I'm not a student (I work at LBL) you can totally count on me to attend. Any chance it will be held after 5?

Posted by: Tommaso Sciortino on May 4, 2004 11:26 AM

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Marx should be on the list, there's no way you could go around him in a course about economics and philosophy.

As for the rest...nothing by Malthus, David Ricardo and in relation J.B Say? The savage world of Thorstein Veblen? or the "down to earth" work of Machivelli? Alright, the latter belongs more in field of Political Philosophy.

Quick field question:
Who here has actually taken the time to read "Wealth of Nations" in full? And with that I mean the actual book from cover to cover? It's a hard read, in my personal experience.

Posted by: CapTVK on May 4, 2004 11:42 AM

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I'll be there. Also, in the absence of the actual text of Nelson Denoon's _Development as the Death of Villages_, I'd suggest the novel in which it figures: Norman Rush's _Mating_.

Posted by: Rachel Chalmers on May 4, 2004 12:20 PM

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Dan Hausman's _The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics_

A good intro to philosophy of econ is Hausman's entry in the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy.

He and Rosenberg at Duke have done plenty interesting and philosophical considering the actual science of economics.

Posted by: albert j on May 4, 2004 12:40 PM

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What, no Galbraith?

Posted by: Chris Wage on May 4, 2004 12:43 PM

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Weber deserves inclusion. _Protestant Ethic_ or some excerpts from _Economy and Society_

Posted by: ecpepper on May 4, 2004 12:46 PM

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No Simmell?????

Posted by: roger on May 4, 2004 12:48 PM

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What no Aristotle?
And it might not be quite apropos, but Robert Paul Wolff's "Moneybags s/b so lucky," on Marx's rhetoric would nevertheless be a worthwhile addition.

Posted by: paul on May 4, 2004 01:39 PM

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I'll chime in as well: What??? No Marx?!?! LOTS of libertarians and social choice theorists, though . . .

Brad, you're showing your stripes a little too immodestly.

Posted by: General Glut on May 4, 2004 01:41 PM

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Have you seen this?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/economics/

The bibliography is big enough to kill a horse.

Posted by: Mike on May 4, 2004 01:58 PM

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I would second adding Marx to the list, and I'm about as far from a Marxist as one can get.

Galbraith made no important contributions to the field so I'm glad that he's off. I sure hope, however, that Berkeley is on semesters and not quarters. Otherwise this list would be unbearably brutal.

Posted by: Chris on May 4, 2004 01:59 PM

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What about Wittfogel? The Oriental (esp. Chinese) econo-political condition can't be understood without him.

Posted by: fatbear on May 4, 2004 02:05 PM

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How about Olson's "Logic of Collective Action"?

Posted by: Tom Bozzo on May 4, 2004 02:32 PM

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Since Nozick is on the list, the thorough debunking he receives from GA Cohen (e.g., Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality) and to some extent by Kymlicka (Contemporary Political Philosophy, ch. 4), ought to be in there. Anarchy has undoubtedly had some influence, but the extent to which it is poorly argued and has subsequently been shut down, has gone largely unnoticed.

Olson also has been put into very unfavorable light by recent contributions from psychological economics (Frey (econ.), Deci (psych.) come to mind).

Posted by: peter on May 4, 2004 02:46 PM

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Lots of nice entries from the "ethics" side. Need a bit more from the epistemology ranks. Popper comes to mind. So do recent studies in causality...something by Kevin Hoover, a reviews of the time-series-econometricians' analyses of causality. The rhetoricians' critique: something by Dierdre McCloskey?

Posted by: Marcus Sitz on May 4, 2004 03:15 PM

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What from Marx do you suggest? Anything that touches the labor theory of value is a total swamp... The "Critique of the Gotha Program" is the only half intelligible work of economic philosophy by Marx I can think of, and it is only half intelligible.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on May 4, 2004 03:26 PM

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"On the Division of Labour in Production", from Anti-Duehring perhaps?

Posted by: peter on May 4, 2004 03:40 PM

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for Marx, try the German Ideology and 1844 manuscripts. You can also move on to Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, Sartre etc. etc. if you want interconnections of the Marxian tradition and philosophy.

In the Post Keynesian tradition you have Keynes' own work on probability, plus stuff by Robinson and Shackle, as well as more recent work by Sheila Dow and Tony Lawson, among others, that draws clearly on philosophy. Edward Fullbrook's recent edited volume on _Intersubjectivity in Economics_ is worth a look. On method Mirowski, Deane, and many others are interesting.

There's a burgeoning feminist econ lit that draws on philosophy in various ways; there's a survey in the March 2004 _Journal of Political Philosophy_ by Gabrielle Meagher and Julie Nelson.

Posted by: Colin Danby on May 4, 2004 03:55 PM

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This sounds like it would be a good class. I was an econ undergrad at berkeley and would have taken this class if it had been available.

Posted by: sambr on May 4, 2004 04:02 PM

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"Even though I'm not a student (I work at LBL) you can totally count on me to attend. Any chance it will be held after 5?"

Posted by Tommaso Sciortino at May 4, 2004 11:26 AM

Tommaso, if you buy the iced coffee at the coffee shop, I'm sure that you can get Brad to show.

Posted by: Barry on May 4, 2004 04:22 PM

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I second something from Max Weber, but would suggest "The City"

Posted by: Eli Rabett on May 4, 2004 04:48 PM

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If you'd want to include Marx in a consideration of the intersection of philosophy and economics, selections from the "Grundrisse" would be the fair and reasonable place to look for a representation of his mature, considered views. (It's perhaps no accident that it was only published in 1939.) As for the labor theory of value being a swamp, well, that has to be addressed through consideration of the "transformation problem" between labor values and prices of production, which Marx recognized, but addressed only in a sketchy fashion. Since, for any actual economic consideration, prices of production are what need to be considered, arguably labor values are redundant, rather like "ether" as a medium for the propogation of electro-magnetic waves. But the crucial philosophically relevant link with economics lies in the relation between economics as an objective, rational study, a "science", and the basis for framing such a study in a philosophy of praxis. Unfortunately, Marx' own accounts of such a link are none too clear, nor helpful. Trying to make it out involves cutting through thickets of Hegelian dialectical method and trying to figure out exactly what the terms and boundaries of Marx' critique of Hegel were. Quite a muddle! (Arguably, Marx missed his vocation as a philosopher by making himself over as an economist.) Perhaps one would have to go forward to the likes of Gramsci and Wittgenstein to make out the connection. But I know of no publication that clearly and focally works it out. Still, despite all the changes since and the obliquity of orthodox Marxism, the connection between philosophies of praxis and the objective study of economics seems to me a relevant and worthy topic of philosophical consideration.

Posted by: john c. halasz on May 4, 2004 07:22 PM

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Throw in Ayn Rand as well: "Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal"

Posted by: Peter on May 4, 2004 07:30 PM

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What about M. Friedman's essay: "The Methodology. of Positive Economics"? Brilliant horse-shit.

Posted by: donfowler on May 4, 2004 07:43 PM

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Olson also has been put into very unfavorable light by recent contributions from psychological economics (Frey (econ.), Deci (psych.) come to mind).
Posted by peter at May 4, 2004 02:46 PM

How so? Citations?

Posted by: Tom Bozzo on May 4, 2004 07:54 PM

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"The underlying asssumption for this prescription [that economic policy should be directed by monetarily self-interested individuals] is a very narrow and empirically questionable view of human motivation. Olson's "Logic of Collective Action" (Olson, 1965) has successfully persuaded most economists and large parts of other social scientists that rational self-interested individuals cannot be expected to act consistently with the interest of the groups or communities to which they belong."
-Lopes and Rodrigues (2004), conference paper

For some other, and less empirically questionable perspectives, see for example

Frey, Bruno S., Motivation and Human Behaviour, ch. 3, Risk Trust and Welfare, Taylor-Gooby, Peter (ed.), St. Martin’s Press LLC., New York, NY, 2000

or

Deci, Edward L., and Flaste, Richard, Why We Do What We Do. The Dynamics of Personal Autonomy, Grosset/Putnam, New York, NY, 1995

Posted by: peter on May 4, 2004 09:07 PM

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The criticisms of Olson I've seen kinda overstate his case, I believe. While I personally, in a barely educated way, think that the collective action, game theoretic Nash equilibrium thing is a bit overdone and gimmicky, it's not Olson's fault.

Posted by: andrew on May 4, 2004 10:07 PM

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neat. could you actually pop out a reading list that is categorized by topic? i might actually want to follow up on this...

Posted by: jason b on May 4, 2004 10:33 PM

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I think there should be more technology and history stuff here - and that Marx is better served by analysis than the original, though that is a dangerous statement.... Anyway, here's my list of additions, also on http://www.espen.com/weblog/archives/000059.html:


Landes, D. S. (1998). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. New York, Abacus. Best explanation of the linking between government policy, culture and economic development I have read (but see below)
Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies. New York, Norton. Preparation for Landes, interesting argument about technology evolution and how technology evolves both as cause and consequence of changes in society.
Hobsbawm, E. (1994). The Age of Extremes. New York, Vintage Books. (or, though much of that is covered in Landes, Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution or The Age of Capital may be referenced as well. "Extremes" is very good in its analysis of communism's promise and failures, however, making the point that communism was really designed for German society, not Russia - and underscoring its historical context.
Bolter, J. D. (1984). Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. Old Woking, Surrey, UK, Unwin Brothers Ltd. Discusses the evolving concept of man as a consequence of evolving technology - humans have always pictured themselves in terms of the technology of the times.
Utterback, J. M. (1994). Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press. Excellent on the mechanisms of technology evolution and how it affects markets, the historical backdrop to Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma.
Beniger, J. R. (1986). The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Excellent on how technology has evolved to allow us to have more control - and hence, larger and more structured organizations. This is definitely a book to read before you start thinking about why mobile phones are popular and what their impact on society will be, for instance.

Posted by: Espen Andersen on May 5, 2004 01:12 AM

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Richard A. Posner, "Economic Analysis of Law"

(alternatively, David Friedman, "Law's Order")

Ronald H. Coase, "The Problem of Social Cost"

Jack Hirshleifer, "The Dark Side of the Force: Economic Foundations of Conflict Theory"

Robert Axelrod, "The Evolution of Cooperation" (Okay, Axelrod isn't an economist strictly speaking, but he's close enough for the purposes of your course.)

Posted by: Thomas Blankenhorn on May 5, 2004 02:50 AM

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If you want to go for Marx try the (unpublished in his lifetime) Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/appx1.htm

Marx was quite hostile to both "economics" and "philosophy", but the reasons for and validity of that might make good subject matter for a course.

Posted by: JK on May 5, 2004 06:27 AM

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I would add Vernon Smith's Nobel Lecture.

Posted by: Will Wilkinson on May 5, 2004 07:14 AM

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What? No Krugman? No DeLong?

I'd also add Rich Dad, Poor Dad to the list.

Posted by: a bozo on May 5, 2004 07:42 AM

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I'd recommend Gordon Tullock's _Autocracy_ -- it is one of the very few books I know of that applies economic thinking to the question of how autocratic governments function. I found it shed a lot of light on the writing of Enlightenment, since those writers actually lived in such a world.

Posted by: Neel Krishnaswami on May 5, 2004 08:08 AM

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Ricardo, Malthus and Marx belong on this list - in terms of volume, the inclusion of a short text by each of them could substitute for one of the two Public Choice items (Public Choice is clearly overrepresented with two full-length books). I would add that Nozick should´nt be on the list, whereas Keynes ("Probability") or Veblen should.
There are other good suggestions in the comments. Perhaps Axelrod could replace either one of the two Amartya Sen-entries or Hayek (who doesn´t really go that much beyond the British 19th-century liberal authors and essentially provides a modernized, "post-Marx" version of their teachings)?
The prose of Buchanan/Tullock is not overwhelming, but I could think of a few reasons to prefer their text to Arrow´s.

Posted by: Joerg Wenck on May 5, 2004 09:22 AM

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Seems to me that there should be something on the origins of money in Ancient Greece - anything that doesn't indicate that money and monetary economies are not absolutes that have existed transhistorically.

Posted by: Tom Coates on May 5, 2004 10:43 AM

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Agree on Axelrod - his explanation of game theory and the prisoner's dilemma, including real life examples, explains more than many a fat tome.

Posted by: Espen Andersen on May 5, 2004 11:45 AM

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Why not Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Schumpeter? The first quarter of the book, as I remember, covers Marx. Further, it seems many techno-friendly economists of the business school variety, like to hold the book up as a primer for an increasingly technologically innovative world economy. Plenty of kernels to dissect in regards to economics and philosophy.

Posted by: J Thomas on May 5, 2004 02:27 PM

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The University of Massachusetts at Amherst offers a course called "Problems of Social Thought" (Philosophy 161) that addresses these issues and much more. Having just completed the course, I can tell you it's worthwhile — very interesting.

Posted by: Matthew McVickar on May 5, 2004 04:09 PM

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The University of Massachusetts at Amherst offers a course called "Problems of Social Thought" (Philosophy 161) that addresses these issues and much more. Having just completed the course, I can tell you it's worthwhile — very interesting.

Posted by: Matthew McVickar on May 5, 2004 04:09 PM

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What about that Keynes fellow? I seem to have heard his name in an econ course or two...

At least Ch. 12 on the "State of Long Term Expectation".... The Beauty Contest is in there!

And Galbraith wouldn't hurt either... If more people had read him in California, maybe you all could have headed off the oligopolistic abuses that got you the energy crisis!

Posted by: Wesley W. Widmaier on May 6, 2004 10:28 AM

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Hirschmann's Passions and Interests
Mandeville's Fable of the Bees
Rothschild's Economic Sentiments
Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom (light relief)

Posted by: mark on May 6, 2004 03:00 PM

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I'd add Tibor Von Google's "Production and Consumption", a seminal work, often overlooked.

Posted by: Mark Smurf on May 6, 2004 03:41 PM

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No Marx? mwhahaha... i would put half of the books off the list and "prescribe" Kapital instead of them... It will take same time to read it for students, but they will get much more knowledge. Like it or not, but no Marx means no philosophy of economy.

Posted by: Bleifrei on May 9, 2004 04:23 PM

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Marx and economics:
The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present
by Jason Read

"What is the relation between the economy, or the mode of production, and culture, beliefs, and desires? How is it possible to think of these relations without reducing one to the other, or effacing one for the sake of the other? To answer these questions, The Micro-Politics of Capital re-reads Marx in light of the contemporary critical interrogations of subjectivity in the works of Althusser, Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault, and Negri. Jason Read suggests that what characterizes contemporary capitalism is the intimate intersection of the production of commodities with the production of desire, beliefs, and knowledge."


http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=62-079145844x-3

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