The aim of this article is to show that Veblen and Commons’ Institutional Economics is an original translation of philosophical pragmatism in social science. The link between pragmatism and institutionalism is analyzed at two relied levels: the first concerns the conception of science and reality; the second concerns the conception of economic rationality and human behavior in society. We underline that the pragmatist vision about processes of thought linked to action and experience imply a renewal of the method as well as the subject of knowledge in economics, renewal which is characteristic of old institutionalism.
The idea that several “social times” coexist is an intellectual notion with a long history. Man’s activities take place in different settings and in different walks of life. Each of these imposes its own different constraints on the way in which time is organised and used. What then is one to make of the human desire to lead one coherent life when one is faced with these different and partially incompatible visions of time?
This contribution conveys the idea that the highly problematic challenge of how to reconcile these different ideas of time has to be placed in a new setting, that of the working environment. We suggest posing the problem anew as an enigma to be resolved through a constant series of essentially unnoticed trade-offs within what we refer to as an “ergologique” period. In so doing the problem of the congruence of different times particularly those imposed by the work environment and those derived from the other two poles of our modern society, the market and politics, can be placed in a new framework.
Yet the three poles of modern societies solicit, determine and are influenced by that particular working activity which is science. In parts three to five of this text three “time values” are defined. How do these three concepts of time influence the notion of time involved in scientific activity and how does the latter maintain its “time to maturity” despite these influences?
Our view is that all these dimensions have to be incorporated if we are to pose the problem of the concordance and discordance of different social times correctly.
Modern academic economics is not explanatorily successful. Although this situation has long been evident, it has become widely recognised only with the onset of the recent economic crisis. With the situation now widely acknowledged, however, various initiatives have been launched in the hope of achieving something better. One highly significant such initiative has stemmed from George Soros’ insight that whilst reflexivity is a widespread feature of social reality, the sorts of economic theories that have dominated academic economic output are fundamentally inconsistent with it. Here I argue that whilst Soros’ contribution contains insight, it does not go far enough, and risks having the insights contained neglected due to the inclusion by Soros of various questionable assessments that are in any case unnecessary to the central argument.