Following are the contents (with abstracts) of Review of Social Economy (72/1, 2014).
Bringing Ethics Back to Welfare Economics, Ramzi Mabsout
Economists do not agree on the nature of welfare economics: is it normative or positive analysis? To overcome this disagreement and bridge the gap between the two views, the argument developed here takes two steps. The first identifies the metaethical positions of those for and those against the moral normativity of welfare economics. Metaethical positions differ on the ontology and ultimate legitimacy of morality. What appears in ethical terms as confusion can, in metaethical terms, be an attempt to arrive at an intellectually consistent position. A more constructive and less polarizing discussion on the aims and scope of welfare economics is expected once metaethical differences are accounted for. In the second step, ethical realism is introduced as a metaethical stance that views morality not in terms of subjective desires or preferences but as truth-apt claims. It is suggested that understanding the moral normativity of welfare economics in terms of ethical realism presents an opportunity to break the deadlock that halted its progress.
Killing for Money and the Economic Theory of Crime, Samuel Cameron
There is a large literature on the economics of crime and punishment, yet surprisingly little attention is paid to the receipt of money for crime. “Contract killing” is surprisingly neglected not only by economists but also by social scientists in general. In this paper, I look at the case not of professional gangster “hitmen” but of individuals who have found themselves in a position where they wish to have a killing carried out. This discussion does not condone the practice any more than an economic analysis of suicide is an inducement to individuals to kill themselves. To the lay reader, the cases where an individual feels the need to pay for killing may seem to be such that rationality is not a likely form of behaviour. However, the economics of crime has adopted the use of the rationality postulate as a heuristic for all types of crime.
Neutral Media? Evidence of Media Bias and its Economic Impact, Killian J. McCarthy & Wilfred Dolfsma
Three major surveys of professional journalists, in 1976, 1986, and 1996, suggest that the vast majority consider themselves to be neutral, objective, and balanced observers, whose role is merely to provide information. But how neutral is the media, in terms of its orientation and effects on the behavior of the markets? In this paper, we unite a number of literatures to suggest that by choosing what event to report, how much and how frequent to report an event, and by choosing what descriptive tone to adopt in their coverage, the media has a non-neutral impact on the economy. We report evidence to suggest that: (1) the media helps set the public agenda, by promoting certain events and causes, for better or for worse; (2) the media influence the public's perception of risk, by disproportionately sensationalizing risk and by emphasizing probable negative consequences over probably positive ones; (3) the media influences elections and their outcomes; (4) the media influences the public's perception of the manager, the reputation of the firm, and the goods that the firm produces; (5) the media shapes consumer sentiment and the consumers' willingness to spend; and (6) the media shapes business sentiment and influences both firm- and market-level behavior. In doing so, we demonstrate conclusively that the media is not neutral: the media alters the public's perception of reality. In other words, we suggest not only that the media reports the news, but also shapes the world in which we live.
Beyond Carrots and Sticks: How Cooperation and Its Rewards Evolve Together, Luigino Brunia, Fabrizio Panebiancob & Alessandra Smerillic
This paper is based on the intuition of Dragonetti, an old Neapolitan economist, which argues that a society experiences economic and civic development if agents promote values and virtues, more than solely rely on punishments stated by law. We thus study the evolution of cooperative behaviors using a mechanism of endogenous social rewards for cooperation (SRC). These additional (material) rewards depend on the recognition that the society—each agent in the society—gives to cooperative strategies. We formalize it with a cultural evolution model in which the payoff matrix and the population shares coevolve. We find that this endogenous mechanism can produce a large variety of long-run situations (victory of cooperators, of non-cooperators or, finally, their coexistence) depending on the social features. Moreover, we analyze the differences between SRC and exogenous punishment, changes in cooperation costs or changes in repetition of interactions and we disentangle their respective contributions.
Popular Attitudes Toward Market Economic Principles and Institutional Reform in Transition Economies, Petrik Runst
Transition countries display generally low levels of public support for market economic principles during the 1990s—but more successful countries display more support than less successful countries. The attitude difference is not just the result of transition speed or success. Rather, the data suggest that the varying levels of public support toward market economic principles existed initially and are a cause of the distinct transition trajectories. Different historical legacies affected popular attitudes long before the watershed moment of 1990.
Social Economic Perspectives: An Interdisciplinary Review, Ron Nahser
A review of The Dissemination of Economic Ideas, edited by Heinz D. Kurz, Tamotsu
Nishizawa, and Keith Tribe; The Nature and Essence of Economic Theory, by Joseph A. Schumpeter, English edition and a new introduction by Bruce A. McDaniel; John Kenneth Galbraith, by James Ronald Stanfield and Jacqueline Bloom Stanfield; Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond, edited by Martin O’Neill and Thad Williamson; and Approximating Prudence: Aristotelian Practical Wisdom and Economic Models of Choice, by Andrew M. Yuengert.
Examining the Place of Ethics in Economics: A Review, Steven McMullen
A review of Reckoning with Markets: Moral Reflection in Economics, by James Halteman and Edd Noell; Alternative Perspectives of a Good Society, edited by John Marangos; and Business Ethics and Corporate Sustainability, edited by Antonio Tencati and Francesco