The program for the ECHE conference, to be held at the Certosa di Pontignano, Siena
(Italy), on 4-6 October, is below.
Thursday, 4 October
7.00 pm Registrati=n
8.00 pm Welcome Dinner
Friday, 5 October
9.00 am Welcome
9.15 am Opening Lecture
Hilbert and the Axiomatic Approach: Its Background and Development Leo Corry (Tel-Aviv University)
10.15 am Coffee/tea break
Gerard Debreu: from Nicolas Bourbaki to Adam Smith. A phenomenology of
becoming an economist
Till Duppe (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Discussant: Bruna Ingrao (University of Rome, La Sapienza)
Alessandro Innocenti (University of Siena)
Discussant: Philippe Fontaine (ENS Cachan)
1.00 pm Lunch
On Robert Remak's Superposed Price Systems: Before Axiomatization<=r>
Harald Hageman (Univ. of Hohenheim) and Lionello F. Punzo (Univ. of Siena)
Discussant: Ivan Moscati (Bocconi University, Milan)
3.30 pm Ragnar Frisch's Axiomatic Approach in Econometrics
Olav Bjerkholt (University of Oslo) and Ariane Dupont (INRETS, Paris)
Discussant: Lionello Punzo (Univers=ty of Siena)
4.30 pm Coffee/tea break
Dynamics versus axiomatisation: the case of the Italian Paretian
Mario Pomini (University of Padua) and
Gianfranco Tusset (University of Padua)
Discussant: Massimo Di Matteo (University of Siena)
8.00 pm Conference Dinner
Saturday, 6 October
A Pioneering Argument for the Axiomatic Method Revealed in Whatelyâ��s
Chikakazu Tadakoshi (Yokohama City University)
Discussant: Jose Luis Cardoso (Technical University of Lisbon)
Robbins's Essay and the axiomatisation of economics
Roger Backhouse (Univ. of Birmingham) and Steve Medema (Univ. of Colorado at
Discussant: Annalisa Rosselli (University of Rome, Tor Vergata)
11.15 am Coffee/tea break
The significance of modelling in Economics for the development of
Mathematics: The minimax-, the duality-, and the Kuhn-Tucker theorem
Tinne Hoff Kjeldsen (Roskilde University)
Discussant: Nicola Giocoli (University of Pisa)
1.00 pm Lunch
Axiomatization, Immunization, and Convention in Economics
Arnis Vilks (Leipzig Graduate School of Management)
Discussant: Marco Dardi (University=f Florence)
4.30 pm Visit to Siena
Apparently the ASB has changed its mind. Thanks to all who supported the Australians. Sometimes things do work out. Here's the note I (and others who wrote) received from the authorities:
Thank you for your submission to the Australian Standard Research Classification review.
Your concerns with regard to the proposed treatment of Economic History and
History of Economic Thought have been formally noted by the review team,
and your submission and interest together with others on this issue has
been taken into consideration. On the basis of the information received by
the review team, the proposal with regards to these research fields has
been revised. The revised proposal is to keep Economic History and History
of Economic Thought within Economics. The revised proposal is based on
extensive feedback on this issue and the core reasoning behind this
proposal is as follows:
the techniques used in Economic History research are identical to those
used in other areas of applied economics- the subject matter is
historical economic data;
the History of Economic Thought can be described as being primarily
concerned with the development of economic theory.
The current thinking is therefore to align these categories with the
respective sub-categories of applied and theoretic economics. I appreciate
your input to this process and the classification in its entirety is not
due to be finalised until November 2007. Publication of the new
classification is expected early in 2008.
I hope that this addresses your concerns and thank you again for your
submission. If you have any further concerns please contact Dr David Brett
- email@example.com .
ABS appreciates such feedback in informing its deliberations for this
Innovation and Technology National Statistical Centre
>I am writing in response to the announcement that the Australian Bureau of
>Statistics is planning to remove the areas of history of economic thought
>and economic history from its calculations of levels of economic research.
> I do this in my capacity as editor of the next edition of the New
>Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Having spent the last four years
>overseeing the updating of the Dictionary to reflect the current state of
>economics, I can state unequivocally that both areas are of fundamental
>importance to the field as a whole. I can also state that is the opinion
>of the advisory editors of the dictionary, which include a number of the
>world's leading economists.
>Not only is research in economic history and the history of thought of
>intrinsic importance, it is of enormous value to researchers whose work
>does not lie in these areas. For example, the renaissance of growth
>theory has been very heavily influenced by the reconsideration of ideas
>that lie in the domain of history of thought; examples include Smithian
>ideas concerning division of labor, Malthusian ideas on population
>dynamics and Marshallian ideas on externalities. And much of modern
>growth research has employed economic istory both as motivation for new
>theories and as the basis for their empirical evaluation.
>The decision to delegitimize these two areas of economics cannot be
>justified by the current state of the discipline as a whole. I urge you
>to reverse this decision. It both constitutes an injustice to scholars in
>these areas and represents a desiccated and inaccurate portrayal of the
>intellectual content of economics as a field of inquiry.
>Steven N. Durlauf
>Arrow Professor of Economics
>University of Wisconsin at Madison
From Sumitra Shah
About the 'unhappy' marriage between heterodoxy and HET which has finally
come to the surface for a discussion:
If mainstream scholars from elite schools have a disdain for alternative
perspectives, it is based on more than just a dislike of its critics. Others
have written about when the slow demise of HET started. TPM cafe ran an a
blog on an article from the Nation magazine on "Hip Heterodoxy" not long ago
and the picture that emerged was one of a science that is rigid and unforgiving.
Here is a an excerpt:
Chris Hayes wrote: "I spent a weekend at the annual American Economics
Association conference, and hours with nearly two dozen heterodox economists
(as well as several mainstream economists) talking to them about their views
of their discipline. By and large they made two main points. First, the
sociology of the economics profession, the networks of graduate students,
the politics, outlook and worldview of those attracted to pursuing PhD's in
econ and the perception that economists have of their role in the pubic debate
(as defenders of markets in the face of their enemies and skeptics) tended to
mark off certain areas of inquiry and enforce certain boundaries about what
ideas warranted inquiry and what ideas were or were not on their face
interesting. This sense of taboo operates in different ways, but it's most
striking in the David Card interview which I quote in the article, in which
he essentially admits to dropping his study of the minimum wage because his
colleagues thought he was being a traitor to the profession. In response to
the article, other economists, the esteemed Dani Rodrik
<http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/2007/05/is_neoclassical.html> and George Borjas
have reported experiencing very similar experiences. I'm curious to see if
other economists in the discussion can relate."
Now I know there are far too many members of this list who hate the idea of
minimum wage, but I hope their dispassionate selves will not shun legitimate
research if it leads to different conclusions. The designation of HET as
heterodoxy is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. And we know that is
an all-powerful priesthood. So instead of shunning heterodoxy, why not find
common cause with those passionate about both their particular field and HET?
I am with Evelyn Forget and all others who want to form alliances where they
can. Anyway, now I am emboldened to send to the list my letter in support of
our Aussie colleagues. I will do so separately, lest the length of this message
Pete Boetkke answers
Don't you think the HET was disregarded by economists long before it came to be associated with heterodox thinkers?
I mean Stigler wrote his essay saying that we had little to learn from the study of the history of economics long before HES was a society that gave intellectual space to a variety of heterodox voices. Kenneth Boulding tried to counter the dominant Whig interpretation of Samuelson already in 1971.
So lets do a thought experiment, imagine no heterodox voices found their way into the subdiscipline of HET, what would be the status of HET today within the economics profession?
My guess is that heterodoxy has little to do with the status of the subdiscipline, and instead it is an attitude that the farther a discipline looks into its own past the less scientific that discipline actually is in practice. I could be wrong on that, but I would suggest that the placement record (both in terms of jobs and in terms of articles within the profession of economics) of the best and the brightest in the HET field over the past 50 years would reveal the the problem is far deeper than whether or not the subfield is seen as a welcoming home for heterodox thinkers of all stripes.
There are costs associated with the close identity with heterodoxy (I blogged about them briefly in my own report on the HES meetings this year). But the heterodoxy also brings some huge benefits to the table that make the HES meetings a more engaging experience than the typical economics meetings. The participants care about economic arguments in a way that few economists do. This enthusiasm can be a great source of stimulation --- even when one finds the arguments presented frustrating from the perspective of logic/evidence/relevance.
The economic science wars are not over forever --- there are glimmers of hope. You just have to find the right margin to fight on. The interest in economic biographies, the interest in some melding of economic history and history of thought in the context of policy debates, and the interest in science studies all means that all is not hopeless that economists will find HET more valuable in the future. I am an optimist in this regard, and still believe that good work in the subdiscipline can be rewarded. But it will only be rewarded appropriately in my mind when the meta-argument about what is progress in scientific thought is addressed head on.
Peter J. Boettke
Evelyn Forget answers
Thank you, Peter Boettke, for your statement of optimism about the
future of HET! I see the field flourishing in exactly the spots you
identify: in interdisciplinary, policy-related work. Of course that
doesn't mean everyone needs to do that kind of work. (and of course
"flourishing" is a relative term.)
I find it astonishing that we, as an intellectual society, can be
driven to such soul-searching by a bureaucratic exercise conducted by
a statistical agency. Yes, we needed to respond to them, but we don't
need to be quite so desperate to "fix" one another.
If heterodoxy is responsible for our current status, as Roy
(unconvincingly....) argues, then so be it. Heterodoxy is an
undeniable part of who we are as a field. let's see where it takes us
as a field. If Eric believes the implications of such an argument
"unfitting of a serious intellectual enterprise", good for him.
(Although even he ought to see the humour in making such a statement
as part of a plea for tolerance)
But please someone tell me: when was this golden era when HET was at
its apogee? Did subfields in economics really exist before the 1950s
and 1960s? And haven't we always been a rather small collection of
voices in the wilderness? Isn't that precisely what attracted most of
us to the field in the first place? Don't we relish our eccentricity?
Evelyn L. Forget
Greg Ransom answers
I think Roy has his causation backwards here. Mainsteam
economic "science" is hostile to contextual thinking of most any
kind because it is professionally invested in a scientistic
use of formal models and statistics. History of economic thought
is contextual thinking at its core -- and so economists
have effectively eliminated it from their curriculum. To the
extent that genuine science is dependent for its improvement and
advance on a growing contextual understanding of its problems,
"mainstream" economics was not interested in doing actual science.
So I think you have to begin with the fact that in the first instance
economists are not interested in genuine scientific work, or real science
progress. (If you must, you might argue that mainstream economists are
interested in a sort of fake science, a cargo cult science which tries its
best to imitate some parts of real science -- but this activity should not
be confused with genuine science.)
For the "mainstreamers", the hostility to the contextual thinking embodied in
the history of economic thought came first -- and what followed was a
contempt for any sort of contextual research the mainstream associated with this
field, e.g. all of the various "heterodox" brands of economics. Stuff the
mainstreamers view as just waste-of-time "history of economic thought".
Fred Lee answers
Roy's comment is slightly inaccurate on one point--the decline in HET
started at least in the early 1950s before it got associated with
heterodox economics in the 1960s onwards. On a second point, Roy's
comment that HET connection with heterodox economics did and does have
an adverse impact on HET is correct. But to blame the cleansing of HET
from economics on this connection is much like blaming the victims of
ethnic cleansing for their own demise. It is the people who carry out
the cleansing that are responsible for it.
Roy Weintraub writes
Ivan Moscati wrote:
>As is probably familiar to the readers of this list, one of the main tenets of
>the HET-as-science-studies program is the belief that historians of economics
>could break away from economists and economic departments, and be welcomed by
>different scholarly communities such as those of historians, philosophers,
>political scientists, or sociologists.
My friend Ivan is only partially correct here. "Could break away" is not
the same as "should break away", and "be welcomed" is not the same as
"might be welcomed in some circumstances". My argument in "Economic
Science Wars" (current JHET) was historical/explanatory, not a normative
"follow me". The center of the discussion was the passage:
> /To the degree that the science wars had involved scientists' beliefs
> that science studies was hostile to mainstream science, just to that
> same degree are the economic science wars associated with economists'
> beliefs that heterodox economics is hostile to mainstream economic
> science. And as a consequence the history of economics, *as and to the
> extent* that it is associated with heterodoxy, is taken to be (as it
> is often meant to be) critical of if not hostile to mainstream economics./
The argument went on to suggest that in economics the war is over.
Economists are not interested in sharing their own resources with their
critics. Whether or not you think that this is a bad thing, it is the
case. As was said so much better a long time ago, "As ye sow, so shall
ye reap." Less starkly put, HET as heterodoxy has had an unintended
I thought that the ABS might appreciate a view from a fellow bureaucrat:
To whom it may concern,
I understand that you are revising the Australian Standard Research
Classification, and that part of the proposed revision is a reclassification
of the economic history and history of economic thought group from an
economics 'Field of Research' to one for history, archaeology, religion and
philosophy. I understand also that one of the reasons for doing so is that
the research and development (R&D) processes in economic history and the
history of economic thought are like those used in history and philosophy
rather than those used in other economics disciplines.
Focusing mainly on processes, it would be difficult to justify an economics
R&D field at all, since so much of what economic researchers do is use
processes used in other disciplines. So, on process grounds, you could
justify redistributing the subdisciplines of economics not only among
history and philosophy, but also among politics, sociology, psychology,
applied maths, computer science and statistics. (This is an incomplete
list-some economic research, for example, employs processes used in literary
criticism, geography, biology etc.)
>From a process perspective, research in Austrian school economics,
institutional, evolutionary, experimental and behavioural economics, and
other heterodox approaches, often bears little resemblance to the processes
used in mainstream economics research.
I believe that you are seeking views on the proposal from the academic
community, but I thought I might send one, too, as an indirect beneficiary
of economics research funding. I am an applied economist in the public
sector. I currently work in the New Zealand Treasury on transport and
competition policy, and I have previously worked in the New Zealand Commerce
Commission and before that in the Australian Department of Transport and
Regional Services' research arm, the Bureau of Transport and Regional
Work in these areas-which consists of communicating theory, policy debates
and empirical analysis to economists and non-economists-has depended on
research in the history of economic thought. In my opinion, for officials, a
knowledge of economics that does not include an appreciation of its history
is deficient. One of Australia's greatest public servants, Sir John
Crawford, said: '. the great issues of public economic policy must be
capable of literary exposition if administrators and politicians are to be
educated and influenced'. Research in the history of economics, which
emphasises a literary approach and places theoretical debate in its
historical and political context, is an essential part of the public sector
Since the mid-90s, Australian governments have realised the benefits of
outcomes and output-based budgeting and performance measurement for its own
purposes. Research in the history of economics contributes to outcomes and
outputs in economics. Directing education research funding according to
processes rather than according to outcomes and outputs will diminish the
product of research. In this case, reclassifying the history of economics
will undermine the quality of Australian economics.
I hope my comments have been helpful, and I hope the ABS reconsiders its
Crawford, J. 1957, Do administrators take any notice of economics?, National
Archives of Australia: A4112/1, Box 1-Vol. 1949/1963.
Among other important points here, Prabhu Guptara asks that we think about the funding issue. _____________
I have held fire till now because I am not clear about how best to
It seems to me that HES members need to engage with the three concerns
presented by Tim Sealey.
1a. What is the best way of dealing with the ABS's concern to reduce
'research projects classified as "other not elsewhere classified"'.
They have chosen (as I understand it) to eliminate such research
projects from the classification of Economics. The question then is:
where have they put these research projects? Have they eliminated them
entirely or have they put these research projects under "History" or
what? We need to have the facts on this before we can intervene
effectively in relation to this first concern.
1b. Sealey says that the areas which have been thus eliminated in the
case of economics "in some areas represented a significant proportion of
the research effort". If so, what are the other areas that have been
eliminated? Are they more "significant" than HE? If so, can we make
common cause with them? Or are we better served by arguing for HE on
its own? We need some facts here, and perhaps Aussie colleagues can
winkle out some of the facts that we need?
2. What is the best way for the ABS classification system to mesh with
international systems? Someone needs to look at the OECD system (which
he cites) so that we can determine if that is where the problem lies.
Does the OECD system also need to be challenged? Who created the OECD
system? When? What have been the effects of the OECD system on
research funding? Again, we need facts to be able to argue cogently....
3a. What is the best way of limiting "the inclusion of non-active areas
of research"? Sealey says that they have used what he calls an
"economic measure" but when he mentions "$250k" it is clear that he
means a "financial measure" (do apparently well-qualified statisticians
employed by the Australian Government really not know the difference
between "economics" and "finance"?). Anyway, the question is: can an
argument be produced for suggesting that 250K is not an appropriate
figure? (that argument would work in the case of HE only if we knew
that the amount of research funding for HE in Australia was, for
example, 249K or 240K or 201K... - in which case the argument could be
that the decision, since marginal, should be reversed on the basis of
other considerations. This approach can only work when we have facts
regarding the level of funding for HE in Australia - can someone in
Australia help with this too, please?)
3b. Sealey does say that the "figure decided upon was $250k with some
flexibility for rapid growth areas or areas of significant importance
that did not meet the (financial)
benchmark". In relation to this, our argument ought to be that HE is
"an area of significant importance that does not need to meet the
financial benchmark". However, since this is only the third argument
presented by him, I take it that this is the least effective way of
proceeding? Of course it could be that this is the only recourse we
have but, at present, I do not have enough facts on the basis of which
to evaluate that....
As each person can, usually, only take one "shot" at this matter, do let
us make sure that, when we enlist others to the cause, we are able to
direct their "shots" to best advantage.
I await guidance on the issue and am happy to intervene in whatever way
will serve HE most effectively.
Steve Kates tells us that the reclassification, in the view of the Australian ASB, is supposed to reflect policy and practice in the rest of the world. He writes, to the HES listserve:
In this discussion on the reclassification of the History of Economic
Thought and Economic History within Australia, the following statement
we have received from one of the key decision makers making this
determination in Australia should be noted. The second point he makes
is, I think, of very great importance to our international colleagues.
'One of the main reasons for the revision is to reduce the number of
research projects classified as "other not elsewhere classified" which
in some areas represented a significant proportion of the research
effort. Secondly, we need to be able to make international
that have consistency with international standards. The body seen as
most representative at this point in time is the OECD hence the
alignment with that organisation's Fields of Science. Third there has
be greater alignment between research activity and Socio-economic
objectives. Finally, an economic measure of research activity was
chosen to limit the inclusion of non-active areas of research. The
figure decided upon was $250k with some flexibility for rapid growth
areas or areas of significant importance that did not meet the
benchmark. Taking all of these factors into consideration the History
of Economic Thought and Economic History have been classified
appropriately by the ABS.'
Whether there is an international classification scheme that removes
HET and EH from within the Economics discipline we have not yet been
able to establish. But should this be the case, then this
reclassification is more than just a local event.
I might finally note that the criterion for whether to consider History
of Economics "non active" is whether we receive a sufficiently high
level of public money in undertaking our research. I know that metrics
in education are often bizarrely inappropriate, but this would be
something special even there.