A branch of the French social sciences has emerged in the 1980s, known as ‘the economics of conventions’. The term convention is introduced to subvert the utilitarianism of neo-classical economic theory. However, there is no consensual and stabilized definition of this notion. According to the investigation undertaken in this paper in order to clarify basic concepts, this term should be used for naming a research perspective. Researchers involved in ‘the economics of convention’ face two issues : the methodological issue raised by the interactions between institutions and action; the political issue raised by the assessment and the improvement of institutional measures. This article aims to show how the pragmatic philosophy of John Dewey allows for dealing with these issues.
The Idea of “Fictitious Commodities,” the Cornerstone of Karl Polanyi’s Institutionalism
The notion of “fictitious commodities” is not simply a convenient heterodox slogan to criticize the radical limits of any trade system and the analytical limits of the dominant theory. It is rather the foundation of the institutional perspectives that underlie all Karl Polanyi’s sociohistoric analyses. This article explains and articulates both the theoretical level using the institutional approach to commodities and a philosophical level using a broad definition of the economy. There is, however, a limit to the notion of the institution, which connects both levels: it is not articulated practically such that the potential and critique of this construct may be weakened.
Is the private company a part of Rawls’s basic structure?
This paper clarifies the status of the firm vis-à-vis the Rawlsian basic structure of society. This status is ambiguous due to uncertainties in Rawls’s conception of the firm and his definition of the basic structure. The paper identifies two perspectives regarding the firm in Rawls: an inclusivist perspective defines the firm as an entity ontologically distinct from the basic structure; while a constitutivist perspective views the firm as an institution that possibly forms part of the basic structure. The paper then reviews several interpretations of the basic structure before offering a more inclusive version, which notably includes some informal structures. Linked to the institutionalist conception of the firm, this expanded definition of the basic structure results in an extended constitutivist perspective regarding the firm. It thus provides liberal egalitarianism with firmer ground for critically assessing businesses.
Becoming oneself under the requirement for justice before the Other: Levinas, justice for the Other, and the critique of theories of social justice
Levinas thinks of justice from the event of the Other, which appears and tears the self away from its interiority. The interiority of the self enjoying nourishment constitutes the economy as a Totality. The economic agent becomes oneself only through this questioning, which subjects him to a requirement of justice for the Other. What happens to the economy when the relationship with the Other is thought of with the radicality that is characteristic of Levinas’s philosophy? What are the limits of the theories of social justice under this perspective? This article aims to discuss the relevance of the theories of justice under Levinas’s assumptions and questions the possibility of economic justice.
Hermeneutics and economics: The valued, valuable and usable
The aim of this paper is to identify the conditions (and limitations) of the extension of the hermeneutic paradigm to economic science. The discussion focuses on the project that looks for an epistemological matrix capable of countering the positivist ambitions of neoclassical economists in the textual sciences. Rather than explaining market mechanisms based on the model of natural sciences to identify principles, we must understand their meaning, based on the model of a text that must be interpreted. The price to pay for this epistemological extension is to sacrifice the explanatory part of economic science and the place of institutions.