A Research Annual: Volume 18 Part 1


Table of contents

(29 chapters)

There are two sides to the lending of money: the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro’. The microeconomic side comprises various routines performed by bankers in assessing the profitability of an investment. The macroeconomic side reflects the impact of such institutional banking routines on the rest of the economy. This chapter examines the repercussions of a few generally accepted bank precepts on the overall dynamics of the economic system by unearthing the monetary theory of Silvio Gesell and applying it to three important ‘macro’ scenarios: Schumpeterian innovation, Veblen's absentee ownership and technically productive investment, and Malthus's theory of market gluts.

In this chapter we present an indicative exemplar of continuity between economics and sociology. This exemplar involves Adam Smith and Max Weber, two major protagonists in the establishment and development of economics and sociology. The point of departure is that Weber's work implies substantial continuities or serendipitous points of overlap with Smith's. The major continuity lies in Weber's elaboration and specification of Smith's political economy into social economics. This is epitomized by Weber's extension of Smith's implicit ‘economic sociology’ or ‘sociological economics’ dealing with the social setting of the economy into an explicit social economics, as an analysis of the ‘sociological categories of economic action’. There is some gap in exploring this continuity in the present literature on the history of economic thought and methodology, and this chapter contributes toward spanning this gap.

The employment of metaphors, originating from either inter- or intra-discipline borrowing, can be fruitful if one specifies correctly the type of resemblance which the metaphor is intended to reveal. After a discussion of the role of metaphors, the chapter identifies four types: the nominal, heterologous, homologous, and unificational. An ‘identificational slip’ is committed when the employed metaphor is intended to reveal one type of resemblance which evidence does not support.

I started by characterizing Lawson's book as esoteric and difficult to comprehend. I used the term ‘arcane’. This review should demonstrate that his book is a rich, important methodological exercise for economists concerned about scientific methods, techniques and philosophy and the usefulness of their discipline. Though I have touched on only a small part of Lawson's accomplishments, I have attempted to indicate how I think his work can be advantageously extended to deal with (1) the multi-disciplinary professions served by economists, (2) the value dimensions of efforts to solve real world practical problems (as opposed to the answering of disciplinary questions that is sometimes referred to as ‘problem solving’ by disciplinarians) as well as with (3) the inherent value dimensions of disciplinary economics, many other social science disciplines, and the professions, (4) the importance of data collection and aggregation, and (5) the multi- and inter-disciplinary projections to which economists contribute so much. I found Economics and Reality to be insightful, stimulating and promising. Its promise I believe will be realized sooner if we read, understand, criticize and evaluate it and then contribute. What Lawson has done is major and important. I believe that it is still in a developmental stage. More of us need to help develop his ideas even if our help reveals the shortcomings of much that we now do as economists. Such revelations would help us get on with needed improvement in our discipline.

Publication date
Book series
Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN