Economics as Sociology’s Other

by Henry on June 22, 2009

“Fabio Rojas”: is annoyed at how economists are not only the unwitting slaves of the ideas of defunct sociologists, but are in denial about it. On the one hand, I think that this is unobjectionably true (and I note in passing that Fabio is notably friendlier than many sociologists to economic theory). I was at a meeting of the International Society of the New Institutional Economics some years ago (which you would _think_ should be as sociology-friendly as an economics gathering could get), where Avner Greif gave a keynote address telling those gathered that game theory really was a subset of sociological inquiry, and that everyone should be reading Durkheim and Weber. The collective response to this claim could not readily have been described as enthusiastic.

But on the other, I find myself equally peeved by the ways in which sociologists react to economics and rational choice theory. [click to continue…]

Toward a Humanist Justice

by Harry on June 22, 2009

Toward a Humanist Justice, a collection of critical essays on the work of Susan Moller Okin edited by my friends Debra Satz and Rob Reich, has just been published. The essays were first presented at a conference in honour of Okin organized at Stanford shortly after her death (which we reported here), and the book includes essays by Alison Jaggar, Joshua Cohen, Cass Sunstein, Mary Lyndon Shanley, the late Iris Young, David Miller, and others. One of the big problems with collections like this, focused on a single person’s work and deriving from a conference, is that they can be very disparate. Unlike a volume conceived around a single theme or problem, it is very hard to discipline contributors, and the contributors themselves are invited to the conference for a variety of reasons which include deep personal connections to the subject of the conference, a consideration which is sometimes, and not wrongly, given more weight than consistent engagement with the themes of that person’s work. The difficulty arises when it comes to the volume, and the editors don’t dare to dis-include those papers which don’t really belong in a unitary collection (I hereby request any editors who ever feel awkwardness about dis-inviting me in such a situation – which I can envisage arising – to be frank with me without any fear of me being even mildly irritated). So it really is a delight to find no such problem with the volume – not only are the essays all on central themes in Okin’s work, but they are well written (or well edited, you can never be sure) and all that I have read are very good indeed.

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