Archive for the ‘extra reading’ Category


On Darwin and “intermediate causes”

In extra reading on April 10, 2010 by ariew

Here’s another one in the “hot off the presses” category.  I wrote a paper that I’ll be delivering next week at Florida State U.  It is a little rough, but you’ll get the gist.


History and Philosophy of Economics at UBC

In extra reading on March 1, 2010 by Peter G. Klein

Some of you may wish to jet up to Vancouver next month for a one-day workshop at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, on the “History and Philosophy of Economics.” Jack Vromen’s talk should be of particular interest to this group, but the whole program looks good.

History and Philosophy of Economics

Friday April 16, 2010 8:00am to 6:00pm
Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study, Conference Rooms, University of British Columbia
Organizers: Margaret Schabas and Tyler Des Roches (UBC)

8:30  Margaret Schabas (UBC): Hume on Economic Well-Being

9:30  Evelyn Forget (Manitoba): ‘At Best an Echo’: 18th and 19th-Century Translation Strategies in the History of Economics

Coffee Break 10:30 to 11:00

11:00  Malcolm Rutherford (Victoria): Science and Social Control: The Institutionalist Movement in American Economics, 1918-1945

12:00  Jack Vromen (Erasmus):  Heterogeneous Economic Evolution: A Different View on Darwinizing Evolutionary Economics

Lunch (on site) 1:00 to 2:30

2:30  D. Wade Hands (Puget Sound): Back to the Ordinalist Revolution: Behavioral Economic Concerns in Early 20th-Century Consumer Choice Theory

3:30 Steven Medema (Denver): The ‘Subtle Processes of Economic Reasoning’: Marshall, Becker, and Theorizing about Economic Man and Other-Regarding Behavior

Tea Break 4:30 to 5:00

5:00 Michel de Vroey (Louvain): Lucas on the ‘Lucasian revolution’: An Assessment

Margaret Schabas is a Peter Wall Distinguished Scholar in Residence 2010-11. Funding for the workshop is provided by the Distinguished Scholar in Residence Program. The Departments of Economics and of Philosophy (UBC) provided additional funding.

Prior registration is mandatory, but there is no fee. Contact Tyler DesRoches for more information and to register.


Macro Explanations and the Law of Supply and Demand

In extra reading on February 20, 2010 by Jenny

Last year, I wrote a paper about how the law of supply and demand was explanatory.  Andre asked me to post my paper to the blog because it touched on many of the issues we’ve been discussing or will discuss in this class–macro vs. micro explanations, statistical explanations, and it gives the example from Garfinkel that we didn’t get a chance to look at last time.  The paper is certainly a work in progress; so I’d appreciate any constructive comments you have.

Tripping on LSD (PDF)


New Reading in our Week 1 Folder

In extra reading on January 22, 2010 by ariew

If you are hankering for extra reading and mathematically laden papers aren’t your idea of a good time (i.e. the piece by H. Allen Orr), I’ve got the things for you!

I put in a paper by Gayon which outlines (very briefly) some main differences between Darwin’s theory of natural selection and modern conceptions.  As you will likely discover by next class meeting on Tuesday, I think Gayon doesn’t say enough about how natural selection changes from a Newtonian force-based account to a probabilistic account.  But, better than most Gayon at least recognizes that one of the main differences for modern evolutionary biology is the rejection of Darwin’s central condition of a struggle for existence due to overpopulation.  While Gayon recognizes it he underplays its importance to understanding how modern natural selection is different than Darwin’s.  For Darwin, the struggle for existence due to overpopulation is the key cause of evolution.  Modern biologists (ever since R.A. Fisher) have recognized that not all dense populations undergo anything like the intense competition that Darwin believes to be the case.  Modern biologists have replaced the struggle for existence condition for natural selection with a distinct concept, “fitness”–a term which Darwin rarely uses except to invoke (starting in the 5th edition–I think) the slogan “survival of the fittest” which is, quite literally, meaningless.  Intrigued?


Fitness and portfolios

In Discussion,extra reading on January 22, 2010 by ariew

I came across this interesting article by H. Allen Orr comparing the mathematics of fitness and of portfolio theory (to access the article you will need to be on campus or hooked in the Internet via a VPN Client.  Otherwise I put a pdf of the article in our Week 1 reading folder).  I was initially intrigued because it presents a link between economics and natural selection.  And, as it turns out, the content of the article is on something I’ve written about in the past.

The key concept here is variance.  Consider two traits whose long term expected outcome differs only by their variance.  Under certain conditions the trait with a smaller variance will have a greater long term relative frequency.  J. Gillespie has a series of seminal articles about this in the 1970s.  H. Allen Orr tells us that the same results have been discussed in the investment literature.  Orr’s presentation is particularly lucid.  It is worth the price of admission.

Zac Ernst and I have recently published a paper on the “Gillespie effect”.  You can find it here–if you can access the journal–or if not, you can find it here.

Zac and I think that the Gilespie effect is significant because it demonstrates that, unlike the prevailing view among philosophers of biology– fitness is not sufficiently defined as a dispositional property.  In the Gillespie case the main determinate for fitness is a purely statistical effect, not a dispositional property of the organisms.  Orr doesn’t say anything about this.

Zac and my paper are an outgrowth of a paper I wrote with Richard Lewontin a few years ago.  Here’s that paper.

I’m interested in your reaction to all this.