I simple way of deciding whether one wants to persue reading a paper or book is to look at its bibliography. If it is on a topic that one is interested in and lacks certain references, one might put a low priority on reading it.
I get an ambiguous conclusion in the case of Steven Landsburg's "The Methodology of Normative Economics". From the introduction, I see that Landsburg argues that normative goals cannot be imposed exogenously. People care what a central goal-setting authority does, and the authority must account for that in setting his goals. The reference I look for here is Amartya Sen's "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal" (Journal of Political Economy, V. 78, N. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1970): 152-157). And Landsburg is lacking. But he does reference a later Sen paper that I do not know. Perhaps Sen summarizes his earlier work there.
I get a negative conclusion when looking at Roger Farmer's draft book on old Keynesian economics. Farmer says he presents a model in which the level of economic activity is determined by "animal spirits." This is an allusion to chapter 12 of the General Theory, but Farmer's bibliography lacks any references putting forth a Post Keynesian reading, as far as I can see. Authors I look for include A. Asimakopulos, Victoria Chick, Coddington, Paul Davidson, and Joan Robinson.
And I get a negative conclusion for Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz's "Long-Run Changes in the U.S. Wage Structure: Narrowing, Widening, Polarizing". This paper looks at skill-biased technological change. Here I find lacking the failure to reference James Galbraith, such as his book Created Unequal. (Goldin and Katz do reference a number of authors I respect.)
I realize that authors put out drafts just to get these sort of comments. One wants to know if there are elements of a literature on topic that one has missed.
6 months ago