Archive for April 9th, 2014

What is the purpose of philosophy?

April 9, 2014

Big Think links to this video of Slavoj Žižek. Žižek has been called “the most dangerous philosopher in the West” for his analysis of the worldwide ecological crisis, the biogenetic revolution, and apocalyptic economic imbalances. I have never read or heard of Zizek and have hardly read philosophy so have absolutely nothing to say. But he seems to be quite a thinker. Blame it on the obsession to just look at economics.

In the video, he says the purpose of philosophy is to ask the right questions. Read the comments as well. 

Knowledge of philosophy is deeply important. The subject is hardly taught. Even from an economics perspective. Recently Mankiw argued that econ thinking and policy advice basically comes from philosophy.

Do you want to know a dirty little secret of economists who give policy advice? When we do so, we are often speaking not just as economic scientists, but also as political philosophers. Our recommendations are based not only on our understanding of how the world works, but also on our judgments about what makes a good society.

The necessity of political philosophy arises because most policies are good for some people and bad for others. For example, an increase in the minimum wage, as proposed by President Obama, may raise incomes for some low-wage workers, but it will cause some businesses to make smaller profits, some customers to pay more and some workers to lose their jobs.

Similarly, the Affordable Care Act has provided greater opportunity for some people to get health insurance, but it also caused cancellations for others who were previously happy with their insurance. Evaluating the overall effect of these policies requires balancing competing interests.

The founders of economics were all philosophers and thought deeply about the subject. This has all been reduced to just equations and math. People doing PhD hardly study philosophy which is such a loss. The doctorate is in philosophy and subject matter comes later.

Anyways, what can one do? Just try and figure using alternative resources such as this video..

Monetary policy post crisis…More art than science?

April 9, 2014

IMF econs released this interesting staff note ahead of its WEO release and G-20 meetings. In its blog IMF econs summed the paper as saying monetary policy as an art is alive and kicking.

The paper looks at this whole debate on monetary policy post crisis. There are hosts of agendas and this paper is a nice review. The paper seeks and provides answers to following questions:


Should we allow religion in economics?

April 9, 2014

Prof. Robert Nelson of Univ of Maryland has advocated bringing religion into econ policy analysis.

In a recent piece at Cato’ Institute’s Regulation magazine, he argues for the case.


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