Measuring the Oomph factor in economic philosophy

Nice paper by Altug Yalcintas of Ankara University.

The  author says economic philosophy has emerged as a distinct field in economics but interest in the area has waned. There are seperate journals for econ phil work but there are relatively few takers.

The number of publications and average number of citations that each publication gets within economic philosophy have increased over the past few decades. There are now a considerable number of independent journals for economic philosophy (Economics and Philosophy, Journal of Economic Methodology, Journal of Philosophical Economics, Erasmus Journal of Philosophy and Economics, Revue de philosophie économique, Oeconomia – History / Methodology / Philosophy, and Economic Thought: History, Philosophy, and Methodology) as well as a number of history of economic thought and heterodox economics journals (such as History of Political Economy, Journal of Economic Issues, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Kyklos etc.). 

A number of graduate programs, mainly in Europe, such as those at Erasmus University, the London School Economics, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Helsinki, and at Kingston University, have been launched, granting graduate degrees in economics and philosophy. Scholars in economic philosophy are prominent figures not only in economic philosophy but also in economic history, the history of economic thought, and the philosophy of science. From a scholarly point of view, economic philosophy has become an established field of research in social sciences.

However, in the undergraduate and graduate curricula of economics departments around the world, interest in economic philosophy has been waning. There has been a  sustained decrease in the numbers of dissertations and hours of courses in which economic philosophy is studied and taught. The job market for economic philosophers is also limited. Is this a contradiction or an inevitable stage in the process of a discipline becoming autonomous? Is economic philosophy separating itself from the standard economics curriculum?

He looks at the oomph factor:

In this essay, I quantitatively analyze the significance of scholarship in economic philosophy since the 1960s. In order to do so, I examine, through the number of publications and citations, the evolution of the main trends in economic philosophy over a fifty years period. This paper will develop a better conception of how the pathways of major debates, in particular rhetoric of economics (RoE) versus realism in economics (RiE), helped economic philosophy achieve its present status in economics. (On the significance of intellectual path dependence in the history of economic thought, see (Yalcintas 2006a, b, 2012, 2013, Forthcoming, Yalcintas and Gurpinar In Progress).) Viewed through this lens, it is clear that the main trends in the recent history of the discipline have emerged out of the concerns of non-mainstream economists since the 1980s.

This essay argues that a question such as “What is economic philosophy?” requires one to be curious about measuring the “oomph” of publications in the field. Oomph,  a term coined by Deirdre McCloskey and Stephen Ziliak (McCloskey 1986, 1992, Ziliak and McCloskey 2004), means that the quantitative significance of scholarship in a particular field of research is as important as its qualitative content. Thus, oomph in economic philosophy refers to the impact of economic philosophers’ contributions and implies the measurement of the explanatory power of arguments that scholars in this field put forth. In other words, oomph is the measurement of scholarly attention (Klamer and van Dalen 2002) that an argument or scholar in a specific field gets over any number of years.

Nice bit..


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