Prelude to Political Economy A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics

ISBN-10: 0199261857
ISBN-13: 9780199261857
Edition: 2003
Authors: Kaushik Basu
List price: $58.00
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Description: Mainstream economics was founded on many strong assumptions. Institutions and politics were treated as irrelevant, government as exogenous, social norms as epiphenomena. As an initial gambit this was fine. But as the horizons of economic inquiry  More...

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Book details

List price: $58.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 4/10/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 304
Size: 6.00" wide x 0.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.440

Mainstream economics was founded on many strong assumptions. Institutions and politics were treated as irrelevant, government as exogenous, social norms as epiphenomena. As an initial gambit this was fine. But as the horizons of economic inquiry have broadened, these assumptions have become hindrances rather than aids. If we want to understand why some economies succeed and some fail, why some governments are effective and others not, why some communities prosper while others stagnate, it is essential to view economics as embedded in politics and society. Prelude to Political Economy is a study of this embeddedness; it argues for an 'inclusive' approach to institutions and the state. Modern economics recognizes that individuals' pursuit of their own selfish ends can result in socially suboptimal outcomes - the Prisoner's Dilemma being the stark example. It has been suggested that what we need in such an eventuality is 'third-party' intervention, which can take the form of imposing punishment on players. Kaushik Basu objects to this method of wishing third parties out of thin air. He argues that if a third party that could impose its will on others were available, then it should have been modeled as a player to start with. The adoption of such an inclusive approach has implications for our conception of the state and the law. It means that the law cannot be construed as a factor that changes the game that citizens play. It is instead simply a set of beliefs of citizens; and, as such, it is similar to social norms. What the law does for an economy, so can social norms. The book discusses how the nature of policy advice and our conception of state power are affected by this altered view of the state and the law. As corollaries, the book addresses a variety of important social and philosophical questions, such as whether the state should guarantee freedom of speech, whether determinism is compatible with free will, and whether the free market can lead to coercion.

Kaushik Basu is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies in the Economics Department at Cornell University. He is Editor of Social Choice and Welfare and Associate Editor of The Journal of Economic Perspectives and The Journal of Development Economics. He is author of many books and articles, including The Less Developed Economy, (Blackwell, 1984), Lectures in Industrial Organization Theory (Blackwell, 1993), and Analytical Development Economics (1997).

Preface
Preliminaries
Introduction
Incident off Grand Trunk Road
Positive Political Economy
An Overview
Games and Misdemeanors: Game Theory for the Uninitiated
Motivation
Hex
Normal-Form Games
Extensive-Form Games
Individual Rationality
The Concept of Rationality
Internal Consistency
Procrastination and Addiction
The Traveler's Dilemma
The E-mail Game - Almost
The Paradox of Cognition
Society
Social Norms, Culture and Beliefs
Of Mice and Men
The Bridge on Forest Home Drive
A Digression on "Association"
Equilibrium-Selection Norms
Hawk, Dove and Maynard's Cuckoo
Norms, Polyphiloprogenitive
Beliefs
The State
Law and Economics
The Law According to Social Science
Law and Economics: A New Approach
Law and Enforcement: A Model
A Digression on Freedom of Speech
Concluding Remarks
Power and Coercion
Of Dyads and Triads
Political Power, Havel's Allegory, and McCarthyism
Triadic Markets and Coercion
A Digression on Sexual Harassment
On the "Man of Influence"
Concluding Remarks
On Advising Government
A Science of Advising?
Advising Endogenous Government
Cheater's Roulette
A Moral Conundrum
The Concept of "State"
Preamble
The Standard View and Its Brood of Fallacies
State as Beliefs
The Dane County Farmers' Market
Ethics and Judgment
Welfare and Interpersonal Comparisons
Preliminaries
If I Were You ...
Income and Welfare
Utilitarianism and Rights
Basic Concepts
Escher's Waterfall and a Critique of Utilitarianism
Rights and Liberty
Morals and Solipsism
Conclusion
Some Concluding Remarks
Introduction
The Pdomain Problem
Games and Reality
The Free Rider
Conclusion
Notes on Methodology: Various and Sundry
Introduction
Knowledge and Skepticism
Assumptions
Hume's Law
Methodological Individualism
Determinism and Choice
References
Name Index
Subject Index

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