This course has several aims. At first, we want to present key methodological revolutions within economic theory leading to the modern mathematical economics. Secondly using our historical investigation, we aim to explain main contemporary policy debates in macroeconomics such as “austerity measures versus fiscal stimulus”.
To achieve our goals, we have divided our classes into two blocks. Firstly, we focus on the history of modern mathematical economics and main policy ideas such as austerity. In the second part, we focus on intellectual roots of main policy approaches and we also open a debate about the usage of models that are empirically weak in current situation. To answer the question “Why empirically inefficient models are still being used?” we analyze the problem from two perspectives: a) philosophy of economics (“paradox of explanation”) and philosophy of science (legacy of T. Kuhn and I. Lakatos). The class therefore combines perspectives from history of economic thought, philosophy of economics and current policy debates with an aim to present history and philosophy of economics as important knowledge helping to understand current policy decisions and state of economics as a science.
The investigation of historical and methodological foundation of economics enables us to debate questions about the intellectual roots of positions of main policy makers, the
The course is designed as an introductory course therefore no deep knowledge of economic theory or philosophy is expected. However, the background in economics is of course an advantage. Our coverage of historical milestones and economic schools is arbitrary to fit to our main task (follow the gradual development of economics towards science based on mathematical methodology and explain selected policy debates). Therefore, many issues are neglected because of limited space (e.g. institutional schools, etc.).
Each student is expected to write an essay and to pass the final exam. The student can gain maximum 50 points from the essay and 50 points from the final exam. Therefore, the total amount of points is 100. However, any student can get additional extra points for class activity. The maximum amount of these bonus points is 10. These points add to points from essay and final exam and hence they can improve the grade significantly. Even though the limit for the grade E is 50 points, each student must write the final exam and deliver an essay to pass the class. Delivering an essay without writing the final exam is not sufficient for passing the course. All three parts of the grading are described in more details below.
The final grade will be determined by the sum of all points which the student has gained from essay, final exam and his activity throughout the semester according to this scale:
A = 100- 91
B = 90-81
C = 80-71
D = 70-61
E = 60-51
F = 50-0
There are three kinds of topics which student can take up for his essay:
1) Critical discussion of some of the primary (or supplementary) literature in the syllabus for the course.
2) Comparative discussion between two or more of the authors debated in the course.
3) Free topic which should be connected with the topics debated during the course. (Here we recommend to consult the topic with the teachers).
It is possible to consult the essay topics with the teachers, but it is not compulsory. It is also not required from the students that they send an information about what topic they have chosen for the essays, but please note that choosing a bad essay topic (disconnected from the course or too general topic about “everything” or dealing with “all problems within economics or philosophy”) will lead to a request for a new essay with a different topic. Failure to produce a new essay will lead to 0 points from the essay assignment and therefore to failing the course.
The recommended length of the essay is 1600 words. Any essay which will have more than 1700 words will be penalized by losing a point for every 10 words above the limit. Given the space restrictions it is advised not to take a broad and general topic. It is important to write a short, and concise essay with a clear structure:
· The essay should have an abstract, a short introduction which will state the goal(s) of the essay and the thesis that will be defended in the course of the essay.
· The most important on which the thesis as such will be valued mostly is the actual defense of the thesis.
· At the end the essay should contain a discussion which will remind the reader of the general structure of the argument of the essay and point on to some further possible developments of it.
The maximum amount of points to be gained from the essay is 50. To sum up, these are the following criteria on which the essays will be evaluated:
a) The logical structure of the argument,
b) The quality of the content of the essay,
c) The language of the essay,
d) Complying with the citation standards,
e) The length of the essay.
The essays are due before the final exams. If a student wants to attend the final exam he must submit his essay before the exam otherwise he will be not allowed to participate in the exam. It is compulsory for every student to write an essay for the course. Not writing one will automatically lead to failing the course.
More detailed guidelines will be submitted in the middle of the semester in the Moodle.
KEY TECHNICAL RECOMMENDATION:
1) Check your essay for proper citation standard. Choose one (e.g. APA) and stick to it (=be consistent).
1) Avoid any form of plagiarism. We check every essay using anti-plagiarism software.
Activity during the lectures
Students can gain maximum 10 points for the general classification during the semester by actively participating in the debate during the seminars and lectures. By active participation it is meant that a student actively participates in the class debate, have read the readings and debate them in the class, etc. If anybody had a point that he wanted to say but for different reasons could not or got the idea after the lecture, he can write it in e-mail form to his lecturers. These can also be evaluated by points. It is recommended to be actively participating also for different reasons, e.g. one can think of his essay topic during these exchanges. A student can get maximum one activity point per class.
To successfully pass the course the student must write the final exam. The maximum amount of points to be gained from the exam is 50. The exam will be divided into five different parts each with value of 10 points. The content of the exam will not vary from the topics discussed on the seminars, lectures or in the readings (at least one part of the exam will be solely based on compulsory texts). It is a necessary prerequisite to submit the essay before one can sign up for the final exam.
Each lecture is provided with several types of additional readings: original texts of discussed authors and secondary literature. Students are expected to read compulsory papers.
First part of the course
Textbook chapters are not mandatory but they provide complex understanding of the discussed topics. Textbook chapters usually go beyond lecture content: especially Screpanti and Zamagni (1993). Backhouse (2002) much more reflects the level of lectures related to the history of economic thought and is definitely recommended to be read (very interesting book explaining also historical and political context). Screpanti and Zamagni (1993) are recommended to be read after Backhouse (2002) especially for those without any background in economics.
Second part of the course
The compulsory reading for the second part will be based on selected readings. However, many ideas in lectures are also derived from several books we would recommend to read (Introductory chapters in Blanchard et al., 2012; Blanchard et al., 2014 and Blanchard et al., 2016; then Blyth, 2013; Quiggin, 2012).
Main books and textbooks
Backhouse, R. (2002). The ordinary business of life: A history of economics from the ancient world to the twenty-first century (No. 330.9 B3.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Blanchard, O., Romer, D., Spence, M., & Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). In the wake of the crisis: Leading economists reassess economic policy. MIT Press.
Akerlof, G. A., Blanchard, O., Romer, D., & Stiglitz, J. E. (Eds.). (2014). What Have We Learned?: Macroeconomic Policy After the Crisis. MIT Press.
Blanchard, O., Rogoff, M. K., & Rajan, R. (Eds.). (2016). Progress and confusion: the state of macroeconomic policy. International Monetary Fund.
Blyth, M. (2013). Austerity: The history of a dangerous idea. Oxford University Press.
Quiggin, J. (2012). Zombie economics: how dead ideas still walk among us. Princeton University Press.
Screpanti, E., & Zamagni, S. (1993). An Outline of the History of Economic. Thought, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
See the attached Guidelines (pdf) for full description of literature for each class.
FOR DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF TOPICS TOGETHER WITH RELATED COMPULSORY AND SUPPLEMENTARY LITERATURE PLEASE SEE ATTACHED PDF WITH GUIDELINES.
Short summary of the sylabus:
1) Economics and Moral Philosophy: The way to Adam Smith (3.10., JB)
7) Austrian School and Ordoliberalism – Intellectual Roots of Neoliberalism (14.11., JB)