Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 Principles of Institutional Economics

  • Economics is about social provisioning, not merely choices and scarcity.
  • Both scarcity and wants are socially defined and created.
  • Economic systems are human creations; no particular economic system is "natural".
  • Ecological literacy (economy-ecology interface) is essential to economics.
  • Valuation is a social process.
  • The government defines the economy; laissez faire capitalism is an oxymoron.
  • The history of economic thought is critical to the study of "basic principles" of economics.
  • Economic theory ("logical economics") and real world economics are often very different things.
  • Race, gender, and class shape economic processes, outcomes, and policies in the real world economy.
  • There are many types of economists who do not agree on many things. This reflects the fact that economics is not "value free" and ideology shapes our analyses and conclusions as economists.
From: Janet Knoedler, Jennifer Long, Reynold Nesiba, Janice Peterson, Geoff Schneider, James Swaney, and Daniel Underwood (1998). "10 Things for Economic Pedagogy", Association for Evolutionary Thought, Western Social Science Association, Denver Colorado. (See here.)


Gabriel said...

Awesome meme! :)

But just one curiosity... Isn't social provisioning about choices and scarcity too?

Gabriel said...

P.S. Regarding "Economic systems are human creations; no particular economic system is "natural".", by "human creations" do you mean human design?

It would be interesting to find out what you think the government, or certain people in government, can and can't do.

Robert Vienneau said...

Eric Nilsson understands what is wrong with defining economics by "choices" and "scarcity".

What do I mean? Gabriel might recognize that my post is a quotation, with no additional comments by me until now. I see no tension between asserting that economies are not natural and such statements as an economy is "the product of human action, but not human design" or "The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk."

Gabriel said...

Oh, I didn't notice it was a quote. My mistake.

My question was not about defining economics. I was just curious how 1 hour of work used on healthcare for the elderly is not 1 hour not used on something else.

Natural/unnatural is metaphoric anyway, in any case irrelevant. The question was, to what degree do the authors--if you don't support these views--say that "human creation" translate into "someone's plan".

Robert Vienneau said...

I don't say I don't support the authors' views either.

"To what degree do the authors say that 'human creation' translate into 'someone's plan'?"

I have already answered. I see no tension between asserting that economies are human creations and such statements as an economy is "the product of human action, but not human design" or "The owl of Minera flies only at dusk."

I reject Gabriel's refusal to understand what he read. Clearly Gabriel accepts early Wittgenstein more than later.

Gabriel said...

Actually, a far better reference for this discussion would be another influence of mine, the late Benny Hill.

Just to be clear, I don't see any tension between those statements either. Clearly, various forms of (economic) activity happen. I share your (the authors'?) dislike/disapproval for the way *some people* use "natural" as a value judgment/seal of approval for some of these types of economies.

That being said, which I think is obvious... One question comes to mind, and I take full responsibility for phasing it poorly: what government can and can't do. (Point #6 is also interesting re: this issue).

Robert Vienneau said...

I presume that when the authors write about laissez-faire capitalism being an oxymoron they have some such idea as this is mind. Anyway Gabriel is going on about the same sort of thing over at Dani Rodrik's.

Robert Vienneau said...

Gabriel responds at his blog with question-begging moralizing.

Gabriel said...

Is there moralizing which is not question begging?

Or is moralizing about "equality of opportunity" *somehow* better than otherwise moralizing?

My point is simple... I'm entitled to my property just as I'm entitled to my life. I don't even require the State to protect my property. Only for it to leave me alone.