The weirdness of economists

I was meandering around in the stacks of the university library, always a pleasure – all those enticing books, the musty smell, the peace – and succumbed to the temptation to fetch out some unintended books.

edited by Daniel Hausman (1984/2008) won the competition between the books to be picked up. It’s a collection of essays that runs from John Stuart Mill, Max Weber, Thorsten Veblen, Lionel Robbins etc via Schumpeter, Friedman, Kaldor, Sen to Vernon Smith, Colin Camerer, Geoffrey Hodgson and Julie Nelson. All these and more. There’s also (accepting that this is a specialized taste) a bibliography of books on economics methodology.

I open at random to an essay by Daniel Hausman and Michael McPherson, which sets out the (usually implicit) framework of normative economics: economics appraises outcomes (not processes), using a single appraisal perspective, looking at the consequences for individuals (not groups or ‘society’) in terms of their welfare (not freedom or rights), welfare being defined as the satisfaction of preferences and assessed in terms of market outcomes and the Pareto criterion. We economists are early socialized into this approach and forget how weird it seems to others.

Anyway, it looks like a good random pick from the stacks.

[amazon_image id=”0521709849″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Philosophy of Economics: An Anthology[/amazon_image]

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