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From my review on Recharting the History of Economic Thought

Read more here: https://doi.org/10.1080/09672567.2021.1936723

Here are David Colander’s thoughts:

Books written for open-minded mainstream would be structured differently; they would be more carefully crafted, better capturing the subtlety of views that characterize the best of mainstream economists. Their analysis would be fine grained—designed to show sympathetic mainstream economists where they might consider moderating their views.

David Colander, « Kevin Deane and Elias van Waeyenberge (eds), Recharting the History of Economic Thought », Œconomia, 11-1 | 2021, 235-239. https://doi.org/10.4000/oeconomia.10616

My students on History of Economics

From this year’s student evaluations:

This has been by far the most enjoyable yet stimulating module for me during my time at Bristol.

This unit was by far the best unit I have taken at this university. I found my own academic interest in this unit and because of it I now know that I want to pursue History of Economic Thought for my postgraduate degree.

Best course of my university career so far. I learnt some great lessons and feel like it wouldn’t have been the same without the commited tutors.

I wish there would be a third year offering too as I would have done that after having enjoyed it so much this year.  My favourite unit of the year hands down.

This is the unit which I most enjoyed studying for during this year and it was very helpful to build my confidence t develop my own ideas as well as enhancing my writing skills.

It was really a great unit. I feel like I have a much better understanding of my degree and economics as a whole because of this unit. It’s definitely the most interesting and engaging unit I’ve done so far. It should be compulsory!

I am always humbled to hear back from our students. More reactions here.

Distant idea of this felicity

He is enchanted with the distant idea of this felicity. It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings, and, in order to arrive at it, he devotes himself for ever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness. To obtain the conveniencies which these afford, he submits in the first year, nay, in the first month of his application, to more fatigue of body and more uneasiness of mind, than he could have suffered through the whole of his life from the want of them. He studies to distinguish himself in some laborious profession. With the most unrelenting industry he labours night and day to acquire talents superior to all his competitors. He endeavours next to bring those talents into public view, and with equal assiduity solicits every opportunity of employment. For this purpose he makes his court to all mankind; he serves those whom he hates, and is obsequious to those whom he despises. Through the whole of his life he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose which he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquillity that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age he should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it. It is then, in the last dregs of life, his body wasted with toil and diseases, his mind galled and ruffled by the memory of a thousand injuries and disappointments which he imagines he has met with from the injustice of his enemies, or from the perfidy and ingratitude of his friends, that he begins at last to find that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility

Evidence of empathetic leadership at the institutional level is in short supply

Lisa Jaremka, director of the Close Relationships and Health Lab at the University of Delaware in Newark, says that pressures leading to burnout are institutional and that academic structures must change. Those in power, including university administrators, members of hiring committees and department chairs, need to change expectations and set new ones, Jaremka says.

Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty

Here is a paragraph from my review of George Szpiro’s book:

While Szpiro tells a highly engaging and informative story about the discipline that mostly purged true uncertainty from its textbooks, he does so unreflectively. The lack of reflection is apparent from the illustration of Kahneman and Tversky’s concept of framing. Szpiro asks the reader to “imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease which is expected to kill 600 people” while presenting the reader with two programs one of which is “uncertain” in that if chosen, people would be “risk taking” (p. 198) by facing certain payoffs with certain probabilities. The problem is — as Michael J. Ryan, the Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, recently pointed out — that we often find ourselves in situations where “there are no numbers that say if this number is this then you do that” (WHO 2020). After all, Frank Knight (1921) and John Maynard Keynes (1936, 1937) reminded us that not all decisions have the character of a lottery. The lack of reflection on when and how reducing true uncertainty to calculable risk took place in economics is, in my opinion, a serious omission of the otherwise excellent book.

Read the whole review at EH.net.

2019 Warren Samuels Prize

Lachmann and Shackle: On the Joint Production of Interpretation Instruments” (coauthored with Erwin Dekker) has recently been awarded the 2019 Warren Samuels Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology as well as the Outstanding Author Contribution category in the 2020 Emerald Literati Awards

The prize winner is chosen each year by RHETM’s editorial board from among the papers accepted for publication in the journal throughout the year. Previous winners include the late Gabriel Oliva, Tom Stapleford, Wade Hands, and Isabella Weber and Gregor Semieniuk.

Here is me talking about the paper at THETS 2018 Conference at Balliol College, Oxford (slides here).

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My students on History of Economics

From this year’s student evaluations:

Economics teaching proceeds as follows: here is an extremely abstract and unlikely theory, go away and learn it, and don’t ask awkward questions about its veracity. But I want to know where these ideas come from, and whether they are true, not just whether they make neat mathematics.   In this course I was finally able to ask some of the questions that had been bothering me, for example: Is the idea of maximising utility really true, is it useful, where does it come from? Has economics always been about rational individuals, or should it consider societal influences and morality? Does it make sense to talk about general economic laws, or does human action actually depend on culture?

History of Economic Thought is an excellent course for students who want to think about big ideas; this year we had some very good discussions. More reactions here.

 

Do economists perform the economy?

Here is an excerpt from my review of Enacting Dismal Science (Palgrave, 2016), a new collection of essays on performativity edited by Igor Boldyrev and Ekaterina Svetlova.

Boldyrev and Svetlova have set out a challenging and important task to push forward the dispersed streams of thought on performativity of economics. While this volume offers a solid reconstruction of the historical origins of the concept, and while it addresses some of the main criticisms of performativity, the question remains whether we are converging to anything like a theory of performativity. If so, it seems we still have a long way ahead.

Read more.