THE WORLDLY PHILOSOPHERS AT 50 / Vol. 71, No. 2 (Summer 2004)

July 1, 2004

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

Arien Mack

Editor’s Introduction

Bob Heilbroner joined the editorial board of Social Research in 1960. Bob believed that Social Research was not, despite its misleading title, a standard sociology or social science journal, replete with reports of endless number-crunching studies and surveys. In perhaps much the same way, economics for Bob was not a discipline insulated from the society and culture in which it was embedded. It seems entirely appropriate that an issue of Social Research be devoted to Bob’s work and to commemorating his book, The Worldly Philosophers, which probably was read by almost every college student in the country for many years.

 

William Milberg

Guest Editor’s Introduction

This special issue of Social Research celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Robert Heilbroner’s classic work, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of Great American Thinkers.

 

Robert M. Solow

Even a Worldly Philosopher Needs a Good Mechanic

The article presents the role of capitalism in the system of social relations. It discusses the economic system of production and consumption. The mechanisms of the real-world economy in building a worldly philosophy is explained. The issues behind the objectivity of economics are presented in light with the disciplined study of it. Capitalism and capitalists' analysis are based on Heilbroner's "The Worldly Philosophers." It focuses on the essential characteristics of capitalism as a system of social relations.

 

Julie A. Nelson

Is Economics a Natural Science?

The article discusses whether economics can be considered as part of the field of natural sciences. Comments and the ideas presented by economist Robert Heilbroner in his book "The Worldly Philosopher," are given further explanation. It analyzes the issues behind the ideas of a socially responsible capitalism and the problems of a dualistic worldview of science. This paper focuses on the comparative analysis and concepts of the natural sciences in relation with the creation of a socialist economy.

 

Susan Haack

Science, Economics, "Vision"

The article presents an analysis of science and economics. It tries to motivate the vision of a scientific discipline in economics. The efforts of economist Robert Heilbroner in assessing the characteristic of economics as a scientific discipline is highlighted. This paper includes the following topics: background natural sciences and its methods, comparative analysis on the modes of empirical inquiry between the natural and social sciences, critique on social scientific investigation, and an assessment of Heilbroner's critique of contemporary economics.

 

William Milberg

The Robert Heilbroner Problem

The article presents Heilbroner's discussion of the history of economics. This study focuses on the interconnection of economics according to Robert Heilbroner's classical and contemporary critiques on the history of economic thoughts and issues. It further gives an overview of Heilbroner's writings on capitalism his insights and predictions of economic future. Also included are Heilbroner's critique of neoclassicism, the implications of competition on economic efficiency, and analysis of the Adam Smith problem.

 

Arjo Klamer

Visualizing the Economy

The article presents a visualization of the economy. This study focuses on the need for a vision in economic theorizing through an analysis of economist Robert Heilbroner's book "The Worldly Philosophers." It discusses the role of the visionary economist in the development of economic analysis. Other topics featured in this article are views of Schumpeter and Heilbroner of an economic vision and its analysis, the impact of visions as they appear to conversation and an overview of constitutive metaphors and stories.

 

Lester C. Thurow

Do Only Economic Illiterates Argue that Trade Can Destroy Jobs and Lower America’s National Income?

In the Heilbronerian spirit, I would like to investigate an area in flux: the economic impact of trade and the classical theory of comparative advantage. When public concerns about general job losses arose during the 2004 presidential primaries, the economics profession immediately jumped to defend these classical theories. The critics of trade were wrong; automatically, the economics profession knew the ultimate outcome had to be good. It did not stop to investigate whether the new technologies underlying outsourcing might be altering the standards of comparative advantage. Were the public's concerns about jobs as stupid as they were made out to be by economists?

 

 

Jan Kregel

Two Views on the Obstacles to Development

The article presents insights on the obstacles to development. It discusses economic development issues in developing countries. The functions of development policies in the improvement of domestic mobilization of resources is explained . Venues for foreign investment and Adam Smith's views on the role of the division of labor for higher production is also presented. Other topics discussed are development's character of creative destruction, and the problems arising from the economic development of developing countries.

 

James K. Galbraith

The Worldly Philosophers and the War Economy

The article presents the worldly and the war economy. It discusses the views of Robert Heilbroner's book "The Worldly Philosophers." This paper focuses on issues that have an impact on economic development theories. It further discusses the contention of economists on the negative impact of wars on economy. The macroeconomic balance brought about by conditions during the Cold War, implications of warfare on the political economy of statist regimes, and effect of the proliferation of nuclear explosives by small states on the economics of war and empire.

 

Ravi Baghirathan, Codrina Rada, and Lance Taylor

Structuralist Economics: Worldly Philosophers, Models, and Methodology

The article presents structuralist economics. It analyzes the views of economist Robert Heilbroner in his book "The Worldly Philosophers." This paper discusses the concept of structuralist economics with views on historical perspectives. The use of structuralist economics by noted economists and their impact are given in example. Other topics included here are the overview of structuralist models, divergence of structuralist and mainstream models in addressing economic issues, and methods of structuralist economics.

 

Duncan K. Foley

Rationality and Ideology in Economics

“Rationality” has played a central role in shaping and establishing the hegemony of contemporary mainstream economics. As the specific claims of robust neoclassicism fade into the history of economic thought, an orientation toward situating explanations of economic phenomena in relation to rationality has increasingly become the touchstone by which mainstream economists identify themselves and recognize each other. This is not so much a question of adherence to any particular conception of rationality, but of taking rationality of individual behavior as the unquestioned starting point of economic analysis. As we shall see, mainstream economics has room for various concepts of rationality (“full rationality”, “bounded rationality”, “substantive rationality”, “procedural rationality”, to list a few) and for vigorous debates over their relative merits.

 

Nancy Folbre

Sleeping Beauty Awakes: Self-Interest, Feminism, and Fertility in the Early Twentieth Century

The article discusses self-interest, feminism, and fertility. This paper focuses on the women's movements in the twentieth century which seek to liberate self-interest among women in a capitalist setting. It further gives an overview to the economic and demographic consequences of a double standard in the economic duties of men and women. Illustrations of feminist efforts to pursue sexual self-interest are also presented. Details of the advocacy of Margaret Sanger on contraceptive methods are given, as well as information on the involvement of paleobotanist Marie Stopes on the birth control movement.

 

Warren J. Samuels

Markets and Their Social Construction

The article presents the social construction of markets. This paper outlines a model of an economic market system and its operations. It further gives information on the qualifications for the social construction of markets through firms and the government. The significance of social control on the social construction of markets is explained with its effects. More topics included are the causes of change in markets, and views of Robert Heilbroner on the implications of market structure on capitalism.

 

Anwar Shaikh

The Power of Profit

The article presents a discussion of the theory of profit. This paper discusses the role of profit motive in capitalism. It gives an analysis on the views of economics according to Robert Heilbroner. The significance of the profit motive in the emergence of recurrent economic patterns is given. Other topics included here are capitalism from the point of views of neoclassical and post-Keynesian economists, commonalities of the two schools in the dynamics of capitalism, and suggestion on the proper assessment of capitalist visions in Heilbroner's work.

 

Robert W. Dimand

Heilbroner and Polanyi: A Shared Vision

This essay introduces the papers in this section by Forstater and Bernstein.

 

Matthew Forstater

Envisioning Provisioning: Adolph Lowe and Heilbroner's Wordly Philosophy

The article presents a discussion about the views of economists Robert Heilbroner and Adolf Lowe in relation to capitalism. It discusses the views of Adolf Lowe on the cumulative causation based on the works of classical political economists, ideas of Robert Heilbroner regarding the factors that influence the production, distribution and exchange, possibility of worldly philosophy in contemporary circumstances. Moreover, it discusses the vision of capitalism as a social system in the political economy.

 

Peter L. Bernstein

The Worldly Philosopher Behind The Worldly Philosophers

The article spotlights the life of economist Robert Heilbroner as witnessed by the author. According to the author, Heilbroner has always been a "worldly philosopher." He and Heilbroner shared many events in their lives, particularly during their years in school at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After school, Heilbroner became a commodities trader and was later sent to Japan for language studies. Heilbroner wrote the book "The Worldly Philosophers," which the author critiqued, and collaborated with the author on "A Primer on Government Spending."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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