The Role of Government in the History of Economic Thought

The Role of Government in the History of Economic Thought. 2005. Edited by Steven G. Medema and Peter Boettke. Supplement to volume 37 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Setting the Table," by Steven G. Medema (pp. 1–9). A broad-based, integrated study of the views of economists on the policy process and the economic role of government remains to be written.

"The Limits of Economic Expertise: Prophets, Engineers, and the State in the History of Development Economics," by Peter Boettke and Steven Horwitz (pp. 10–39). Economists as prophets or engineers, on the one hand, and economics as epistemically modest or hubristic, on the other, clash or coincide in debates over the state's role in promoting economic development

Part 1. New Perspectives on the British Classical Tradition

"Benevolence, Sympathy, and Hume's Model of Government: How Different Is New Political Economy from Classical Political Economy?," by Alain Marciano (pp. 43–70). Hume's representation of human nature is not only different but also richer than the narrow conception of human nature proposed by neoclassical economics and accepted by new political economists.

"Are Two Knaves Better Than One? Hume, Buchanan, and Musgrave on Economics and Government," by Andrew Farrant and Maria Pia Paganelli (pp. 71–90). Buchanan's analysis of government has more in common with that of Musgrave than that of Hume, as Hume was consistently a worst-case theorizer.

"Unintended Order and Intervention: Adam Smith's Theory of the Role of the State," by Jeffrey T. Young (pp. 91–119). Smith's position on the role of the state becomes coherent in light of the complexities of his overall philosophical position.

"The Theory of Economic Policy in British Classical Political Economy: A Sympathetic Reading," by David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart (pp. 120–42). Motivation through a sympathetic process is a vital component of the classical utilitarian tradition.

Part 2. Aspects of the American Experience

"How TRIPS Got Its Legs: Copyright, Trade Policy, and the Role of Government in Nineteenth-Century American Economic Thought," by Stephen Meardon (pp. 145–74). Political and doctrinal allegiances reflect how, in the nineteenth century, intellectual property was "trade related."

"Bringing in the State? The Life and Times of Laissez-Faire in the Nineteenth-Century United States," by Bradley W. Bateman (pp. 175–99). The cultural background of the "ethical economists" explains the style and spirit in which they attempted to introduce economic management to the modern US economy.

"Mistaking Eugenics for Social Darwinism: Why Eugenics Is Missing from the History of American Economics," by Thomas C. Leonard (pp. 200–233). Hofstadter's canonical account of the Progressive Era has led to a historical amnesia about the influence of eugenics on progressivie reforms and legislation.

"Walton H. Hamilton and the Public Control of Business," by Malcolm Rutherford (pp. 234–73). Hamilton's work on social control complicates and diversifies the picture of American institutionalism, especially the traditional divide between the Wisconsin group and "planners" such as Tugwell.

Part 3. Doctrine Meets Policy

"From Muddling Through to the Economics of Control: Views of Applied Policy from J. N. Keynes to Abba Lerner," by David Colander (pp. 277–91). Textbooks have forgotten that the role of the economic theorist is not to give answers but to provide input into a broader policy decision process that goes far beyond economics.

"Economists, Government, and Economic Policymaking in Israel: From 'Crawling Peg' to 'Cold Turkey,'" by Yakir Plessner and Warren Young (pp. 292–313). Economists in a position of political power may very well propose economic policies that differ from the policies they would propose solely as an academic.

"From Continental Public Finance to Public Choice: Mapping Continuity," by Jürgen G. Backhaus and Richard E. Wagner (pp. 314–32). The Continental tradition has its origins in cameralism, and the development of public choice is really a continuation of the Continental orientation toward pubilc finance.

"Corporatism and the Economic Role of Government," by António Almodovar and José Luis Cardoso (pp. 333–54). Corporatism, which was especially important in Italy and Portugal and which gave a much larger role to the state, died out by being partially integrated into the Keynes consensus that emerged after World War II.

"The Rise of Free Market Economics: Economists and the Role of the State since 1970," by Roger E. Backhouse (pp. 355–92). The change in economists' attitudes toward the role of the state defies any simple explanation, involving as it does the internal dynamics of the profession and outside pressures such as funding regimes and the political environment.

"The Role of Government in the History of Political Economy: The 2004 HOPE Conference Interpreted and Critiqued by the General Discussant," by Warren J. Samuels (pp. 393–423). Historians of economics must take a more objective, analytical, and profound approach to the concept of laissez-faire.