ESSAYS IN ECONOMIC THEORY IN HONOR OF ADOLPH LOWE AND HANS NEISSER / Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer 1966)
We shall call economic planning the process of arriving at an optimal decision. A decision, or action, is called optimal if, in the decision-maker’s well considered view, and allowing for the cost of making the decision, its results will be on the average, not worse than those of any other available action. The set of available actions is called his “resources.” Economic planning is, in this sense, concerned with the “best use of resources.”
A number of recent papers have been devoted to developing life cycle hypothesis of saving, deriving some of the testable implications, both at the household and at the aggregate level, and to testing some of these implications. The purpose of this present contribution is to exhibit some further aggregative implications of the model concerning both the long run and the short run, or cyclical behavior of the saving-income and the wealth-income ratio, and to provide empirical tests of some of these implications.
The purpose of this article is not to enlarge proliferating number of international monetary studies or reform plans. The author’s intent, rather, to stress the political aspects of problems that are usually discussed on a highly technical level; for the mingling of economics and politics in policies on all levels, national and international, is the main theme in this study.
The controversies over the thesis of the unity of the natural and social sciences and its kin, social scientific naturalism, which are conventionally but misleadingly dates as having begun with A. Comte, are still very much with us. Throughout the history of these controversies many important issues about social sciences were raised, some of which are still unsettled and deserve review. I propose to consider some of them and to criticize some assumptions which were supported both by social scientific naturalists and their opponents (whom we may label antisocial scientific naturalists) about and in the course of controversies.
[reprinted in 51:2 50th Anniversary Issue Pt. 2]
Just forty years ago, as a young professor at Kiel, Adolph Lowe asked the question, -how is a theory of the business cycle possible? -and answered that it was possible because the underlying economic process was, after all, determinable and dependable. Now, after a lifetime of reflection, he asks, “How is a theory of the underlying economic process itself possible?” And answers, to the discomfiture of his earlier self, that it is not -at least in the traditional sense of the word “theory” -for reasons which, among others, the vagaries on the business cycle illustrate.
Although considerable doubt exists as to the initial date and period in which I am interested, it believed that there began to occur in Britain about 1600 a rise in productivity which had a special significance. The process of industrialization, aspects of which I would like to examine here, was characterized by the substitution of machines for human efforts, by the adoption of improved technologies, by the gathering-in of workers (the factory system) and perhaps at a later date, say, in the middle of the 19th century, by the deliberate application of basic scientific procedures and knowledge to production problems of diverse types.
There is certain ambivalence in economists’ attitude towards normative economics. Value statements are much more difficult to test than positive statements--perhaps impossible to test--and economists like to deal with testable statements. On the other hand, economists are concerned with policy. Policy statements require value assumptions, however one might wish they did not. What economists like to do--offer policy recommendations--requires them to do what they do not like to do--make value statements.
In 1950 Franco Ferrarotti, in collaboration with Abbagnano founded the first postwar Italian sociology journal. Quaderni di sociologia (Italian Periodical of Sociology), which began in 1897 with great figures as contributors, including Pareto, could not overcome the crisis of the Italian social sciences and disappeared between the two wars. Through these early essays and the Quaderni Ferrarotti influenced the postwar development of Italian sociology. Despite the major themes stressed by Ferrarotti, Italian sociology today parallels the most rigid American empiricism, so that too often scientific problems in general and European cultural problems in particular are almost neglected; thus research in Italy follows lines that differ profoundly from its historic precepts and origins.