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Copernicus Center Press


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Filozofia ekonomii

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Revue de Philosophie Economique

2018 - 11 - 21 / 12:45



That there is a close relationship between the disciplines of economics and philosophy is no doubt for philosophers and historians of science. Economic methodology and theory are saturated with philosophical assumptions and ethical issues, whether economists readily admit them or not. Even more so, the close relationship between the two respective disciplines gains recognition within economics itself. One of the recent illustrations are the words of Jean Tirole, the laureate of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences: „economics is fundamentally a moral and philosophical science, embedded in the larger social sciences” (Tirole 2017). These connections have been recognized earlier by many other economists, including Amartya Sen (1987) and Anthony B. Atkinson (2009).


On the currency of themarriage between philosophy and economics testifies the dynamic growth of philosophy of economics as a field in its own right. There is an established international community working on philosophy of economics. Associations, networks, research and teaching programs are growing in number all over the world. Simultaneously, an increased interest in the field of philosophy of economics is reflected in the appearance and development of national communities and projects in many countries worldwide. The publication of Metaeconomics. Studies in the Philosophy of Economics [called thereafter Metaekonomia], a first comprehensive textbook for a Polish readership, is a mark in the development of philosophy of economics in Poland.


The book is a result of a collaboration between Polish researchers affiliated with the Polish Network for Philosophy of Economics (PNPE). The PNPE took off in 2014, has currently 29 members, and is involved in the organisation of several scientific seminars (including the series „Philosophically about economics” with meetings held countrywide), lectures, and academic events (e.g., the sixth Conference of the European Network for the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (ENPOSS) in Cracow in 2017). One of the most recent initiatives of the PNPE is a publication of the latest edition of Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy by Daniel M. Hausman, Michael S. McPherson, and Debra Satz (2017), collectively translated into Polish. The threefold objectives of the network involve : i) an integration of the scientific community interested in studies in philosophy of economics, ii) coordination of activities, iii) promotion of philosophy of economics and facilitation of national collaborations.


The objectives and the mission of the network are reflected in motivations for the publication of Metaekonomia, edited by the promoters of the PNPE : it is to provide a first comprehensive resource that introduces and discusses the major issues and debates in the field for students and professionals interested in the interactions between philosophy and economics. It is worth noting that Metaekonomia has received an award for the best textbooks in 2016, granted by the Polish Economic Society. This award attests to the growing acknowledgment of the importance of philosophy of economics in Polish economic circles.


Reviewing an edited volume is not an easy business, since a truthful summarising of its content and its in-depth discussion is deemed to be inadequate or simply obscure, if not impossible. Especially in the case of the voluminous Metaekonomia, each chapter describes a different subject in the field, and each author contributes to the debate with many claims and arguments. Throughout the book, many positions are discussed and advanced (e.g., realism and constructivism in economics, or various approaches to scientific explanation in economics). In what follows, I will undertake a risky attempt of providing a brief overview of each chapter. I will then discuss the contribution of this book in a broader context. Having the reviewer’s privilege to shape the context of evaluation, for my purposes I differentiate its three elements: i) the growing importance of the field of philosophy of economics, ii) my own conviction of the importance of having parallel debates in international and national communities (the later having not purely an educational or informative function, or merely serving as a resource for national students and interested scholars ; rather, the national debates have their own spirit, grounded in national intellectual traditions), iii) the need to create bridges for a discussion at the intersection of international and national communities. This context will help me to explain why I regard Metaekonomia as an important mark in the scholarship in philosophy of economics.



There are many reasons why economics and philosophy need a closer relationship. The meta-perspective offered by this book is meant to clarify why this is the case, perhaps today even more importantly than in the past. As the editors point out in the introductory remarks, entitled Metaeconomics. Studies in the philosophy of economics, the meta- questions that economists need to deal with in their research have three features (Gorazda et al., 11) : i) these questions have more to do with research practices and theory building, rather than with economic reality itself ; ii) the answers to many of these indispensable and profoundly philosophical questions – such as about the nature of economic models, or whether economic analysis can leave aside the question of justice in distribution – cannot be answered simply by employing standard methods and tools of economic analysis. Finally, iii) an effective research practice requires assuming certain answers to these questions. In other words, economists need to tackle questions that are not directly about economic reality, but pertain to the research practices themselves. Therefore, the questions that they engage with are in fact meta-economic questions that necessitate philosophical reflection.


With the focus on such a meta-perspective, the book’s objectives, in the editors’words, include : „an attempt to define the research areas worth analysis, to present scholarship in Poland and worldwide, and to point to questions that can still be addressed” (p. 17).¹ How the book fulfils its objectives will be discussed in the part „Discussion and conclusions.” In what follows, the book’s content will be briefly summarized.


The volume consists of the following sections. Part I: „Introduction” discusses the major topics and links at the intersection of philosophy and economics; Part II: „Economics as science” explores the epistemological questions of economics; Part III: „Methodology of economics” deals with methodological issues, challenges, and alternatives in economics ; and finally, part IV: „Economics and Ethics” examines the ethical content and implications of economics, and enquires into the (im)possibility to fully detangle moral issues and value judgments from economic analysis.


The first part of the book, “Introduction”, contains the following chapters. The first chapter, „History of the relationship of economics with philosophy” written by Wojciech Giza, sketches the genesis of the philosophy of economics, and discusses an evolution of the relationship between the two respective disciplines from a historical perspective. The author describes a double reverse that features the relationship between philosophy and economics, reflected in an initial unity between them, a subsequent separation, and a more recent proximity in their relation. In the beginning, economic concerns were only marginally addressed within philosophy. With time, economics has not only burgeoned into a separate discipline, but – especially since the nineteenth century – it separated from philosophical reflection in the attempt to methodologically resemble the natural sciences. Giza addresses the cultural aspects that has fundamentally shaped many of the economic ideas and notions (e.g., related to concepts of welfare or money), and explains the reasons for the distancing of economics from philosophy, and the more recent trend that brings the two disciplines closer together.


Łukasz Hardt, the author of the next chapter: Why the philosophy of economics?, attempts to define what philosophy of economics is, and why it is notoriously difficult to define. The author presents the benefits that economists can draw from a more direct engagement with philosophical reflection, pointing to its several theoretical and practical aspects. For example, looking at economics from outside of its own discourse can help to bridge the fragmentation of scholarship in economics (illustrated by the relation between micro- and macroeconomics). It provides an access to on-going debates in other disciplines that are relevant to economics. Relatedly, such a broadening of perspectives can result in a more conscious reflection on the disciplinary research practices, leading „to a more critical account of one’s own accomplishments, as well as on the successes of the discipline [of economics] as a whole” (p. 46). Hardt argues that philosophy of economics can offer a remedy to many methodological and practical upshots and to the lack of self-criticism in economics. From this line of argument, direct educational implications follow: philosophy of economics should be taught to economists. The hope of Hardt is that the book itself will help to acknowledge philosophy of economics as „a meta-theoretical bridge” that couples these two areas of inquiry for mutual benefits (p. 50).


The third chapter of this section, „Influence of philosophy of economics on philosophy of science” by Paweł Kawalec, is focused on the question of how economics can impact and broaden the scope of perspectives in philosophy of science. Despite the marginal treatment of this subject in the classic textbooks and approaches of the latter field, the author argues that economic science had a profound influence on the philosophy of science as we know it today (p. 53). Kawalec, through a schematic reconstruction of the development of science, characterises the relationship between philosophy of science and economics in four dimensions: epistemic, metaphysical, conceptual, and practical ones. The author argues that the development in the philosophy of economics that have brought the most significant consequences for the philosophy of science can be identified with the establishment of a new discipline: the economics of science (p. 55). This advancement was a reaction to the science wars and a subsequent crisis in the social studies of science, and it reflected a deeper change in perspectives philosophy of science (e.g., expanding the meaning of science to include the category of innovation, among other things). Kawalec conclusively shows that the relationship between philosophy and economics is two-directional, and that the role of science in economic growth leads to an increased importance of the economics of science for other disciplines, especially for philosophy of science.


The second part of the book, „Economics as science”, contains four essays. The first chapter of this section, „Constructivism in economics” by Bartosz Scheuer, introduces an original account of constructivism. The author raises the fact that the vast majority of debates in philosophy of economics are dominated by realism, while usually reducing the scope of alternatives to instrumentalism and black-board economics. Against this background, the author discusses constructivism in economics, a somewhat neglected alternative. In doing so, Scheuer contrasts the major shared constructivist assumptions with scientific realism. The interesting part of the argument pertains to what constructivism is not, according to the author. In economics, two positions are usually considered as representative of constructivism: McCloskey’s rhetoric and constructive empiricism. The author makes a compelling (albeit discussable) case for why these positions shall not be understood as constructivist (in the sense presented by the author), and sketches the proposal of how an interpretation of an economic theory and methodology would look like via a constructivist lens. In particular, Scheuer makes a case for „the heuristic potential of a constructivist orientation” not only for economic research practices, but also for its criticism (p. 101), illustrated by alternative interpretations of Milton Friedman’s thesis on antirealism and the homo oeconomicus model. The chapter clarifies many misunderstandings related to the role of theoretical constructs in economics and their criticism.


The second chapter of this part, „Homo œconomicus” in the XXI century. Economic imperialism versus behavioral economics” by Joanna Dzionek-Kozłowska, explores the genesis and development of the homo œconomicus model, its limits, and lessons against the background of how it has been used and evaluated by the two opposing schools, as indicated in the title. Dzionek-Kozłowska shows how much the meaning of the conception of homo œconomicus has changed since the works of John Stuart Mill, and addresses the question of whether this conception can be modified to make a fit with a behavioral economics approach (considering both the old and new schools of behavioral economics). From the history of economic thought perspective, according to the author, the greatest potential to provide for an alternative to economic orthodoxy can be found in cognitive and behavioral economics that take into account the limits of rationality. Especially, the new behavioral economics offers a fruitful ground for reconsidering the model of economic man, broadening the understanding of the actual processes in the economic sphere of social life (see also Dzionek-Kozłowska and Matera 2015).


The third chapter, „The mathematization of economics: mathematization versus mathematizability of economic reality”, was written by Andrzej Malawski², a proponent of ontological and epistemological realism. This chapter is an original contribution to the discussion about the role of mathematics in economics from a realist perspective. Malawski traces the (elements of) confidence in the mathematization of economics to the impact of Platonic thought on science in general. He addresses the question of why the overly optimistic expectations towards the mathematization of economics, which are linked with an aspiration to ground economics science in like manner to the natural sciences, are nothing more but illusion. Malawski makes a strong case for the middle-ground position that implies the mathematizability of economics. This position acknowledges thefruitfulness of the use of mathematics in economics, while recognising that the explanatory efficacy of mathematics, so evident and well-grounded in the natural sciences, has serious limits for explaining economy and economic life. Worthwhile noting is the author’s thought experiment : drawing on an original reading of Platon, Malawski assigns a Platonic origin to the basic concepts of contemporary economics, linking competition, equilibrium, and welfare to the Platonic conceptions of justice, harmony, and happiness as their respective prototypes that regulate the social order.

The last chapter of this section, authored by Krzysztof Nowak- Posadzy, is about „Reflexivity in economics.” While this concept has multiple meanings, in economics it can be broadly defined as a feedback between economic subjects and market structures. The author addresses the reasons that spurred the interests in the concept of reflexivity in economics, the questions of whether economic crises can result in a revision of the methodological grounds of economics, and whether such a revision would imply a qualitative approach alongside the quantitative one. Finally, the author investigates whether the qualitative approach can be linked withtheconception of reflexivity. Nowak-Posadzy, with distinctive terminological carefulness, discusses the state-of-the-art in reflexivity approaches in economics, and some of their theoretical problems (e.g., the question of performability of economic models). Finally, a few case studies form original economic research characterized by reflexivity of the research practices are analyzed to illustrate the fact of economic and social consequences of economics as science. The chapter clarifies the benefits of the reflexivity perspective broadly construed in the context of temporal, fallible, and corrigible aspects of knowledge, economic or otherwise. Furthermore, the discussion about reflexivity as a feature of economic research leads to rethinking the model of science-society interface and the role of science and scientific objectivity in the process of knowledge production.


The third part of the book, „Methodology of economics”, is composed of six chapters. In the first one, Marcin Gorazda discusses „Scientific explanation in economics”. The author describes the topology of various forms of scientific explanations as they relate to economics: nomological, causal, epistemic, and statistic ones. Meta- economic issues referring to the problem of explanation in economics are, in this discussion, related to the models that are used in applied methods. Gorazda elucidates three competing and current models of scientific explanation that are representative of economics: causal- realist, epistemic, and instrumental explanations, and points to the importance of asking the question of what are the criteria of a good scientific explanation.


In the second chapter, Łukasz Hardt undertakes a philosophical reflection on „Models in economics” with reference tosome ontological and epistemic questions raised by the construction and use of models (e.g., the relationship between model-theory-reality, the meaning of truth, if any, in economic models, or realism vs. antirealism debate). In addition to evoking the classical distinction between models as isolations and models as constructs, Hardt points to models as machines as an alternative. The author opens up a discussion about the model- based approach to science – an alternative to the law and theory- based approaches – and proposes a mechanistic conceptualization of economic models as a way to overcome the dichotomy of the classical models-idealizations versus models-constructs division (p. 246 ; see also the latest publication of the author in English: Hardt 2017).


Robert Mróz in „Casual inference in economics” analyzes the methods of inference used in this discipline, focusing in particular on empirical models that deal with the actual data. The author asks a broader question about the relationship between the science of economics and an economic life, and a subsequent problem of how to overcome the existing gap between correlation and causality in econometric models. These issues involve defining the cause-effect relation, and a theory of causality that can provide for an adequate understanding of causes and effects in economics. The author bases the understanding of causality on the theory of probability as probabilistic causation has advantages over deterministic one (such as a better capacity to deal with difficult cases), and articulates the benefits of a philosophical perspective on causal inferences in economics research practices (p. 272).


Wojciech Załuski’s chapter on „Rationality and game theory” is a discussion about the scope and meaning of game theory, the functions of games, and the criteria of rationality in game theoretic research. The author details four functions of game theories: normative, explanatory-predictive, ethical, and classifying ones. The normative function of game theories, considered as their major function, is related to the explication of some elements of the rationality in economics, namely those restricted to practical rationality. This notion refers to instrumental rationality for strategic games, understanding of which defines the main objective of the game theoretic research. Załuski articulates the major accomplishments of game theories: the analysis of the criteria of instrumental rationality, the discovery of rationality in the random choice of strategy, indeterminacy of rationality criteria with reference to certain strategic situations, and the fact that individual rationality can lead to irrational collective decisions, as reflected in the prisoner dilemma. The author redirects the misfired criticism of game theoretic research, which focuses on the alleged deficiency of the concept of instrumental rationality, to more fruitful questions about the limits of game theory in economics (e.g., it does not always proves to have predictive powers), while emphasising its advantages over alternatives.


In the next chapter on „Simulation – an alternative tool of economic analysis”, Witold Kwaśnicki scrutinizes the promising simulation techniques of analyzing social and economic processes. Simulation approaches facilitate a better understanding of these processes, and the development of economics itself (p. 321). Kwaśnicki discusses in detail three major simulation techniques: agent-based modelling, system dynamics, and the Schumpeterian tradition. While emphasising the importance and efficacy of simulations as analytic tools, the author reminds us that „simulation is only a tool that serves the higher goal, that is the willingness to understand the reality around us and general theory-building” (p. 332).


Krystian Mucha, in „Controversy related to the use of a ‘ceteris paribus’clause in economics,” offers an in-depth exploration of the major problems related to the use of ‘ceteris paribus’ (CP) laws, and discusses selected positions that defend their employment in economic research (e.g., CP as incomplete laws that can be completed, normic interpretation of CP laws, or the capacity account of CP laws). Mucha pronounces diverse issues related to this controversy that revolve around many disputes in philosophy of science, such as about the nature and the understanding of scientific laws (and the problems with the covering law model, aka deductive-nomological model of explanation, to which CP laws belong to), the role of idealization assumptions and the difference between idealization and CP clauses, or demarcation criteria. The author suggests a benevolent interpretation of CP laws as expressing falsification feature of scientific epistemology (i.e., having more pragmatic, rather than logical character).


The final part of the book, “Economics and Ethics,” includes four chapters. In the first chapter, „Ethical issues in economics,” Tomasz Kwarciński details the genesis of the separation of ethics from economics, and discusses the relationship between the two respective disciplines in the areas of positive economics, normative economics, and economic policy. He distinguishes two major traditions that have shaped the debates about economics and ethics: a positivist vision of reality that stems from Hume’s guillotine, and Mill’s and Keynesian tradition focused on practical utility. Through the scrutiny of the limits of each tradition, their criticism and attempts at their synthesis, it is showed why the sharp distinction between facts and values cannot be maintained. The author questions the utilitarian legacy in positive economics, the alleged ethical neutrality of the language used by economists, or the isolation of the category of efficiency from the issue of justice in distribution. Karciński argues that the transparency about value judgments does not diminish the value of scientific objectivism ; rather, it can increase its value (p. 381), and takes a clear stance about the need to include ethics in economics education.


The chapter „Rationality, utility, and welfare” by Ryszard Kowalski and Tomasz Kwarciński offers an overview of the relationship between the conceptions of welfare, utility, and rationality in normative and positive economics. The authors analyse the development of the conception of utility, and address the question of how the rational choice theory connects this concept with the economic notions of social and individual welfare. Finally, they identify some of the limits of the standard economic tools of welfare analysis, and draw attention to promising responses to the challenges of welfare theory based on individual preferences, such as the so-called hybrid approaches³. These alternative approaches combine the insights of two contrasting positions, while addressing their limits : welfare as utility, and the objective list theories. The hybrid approaches acknowledge the importance of individual preferences and avoid the problem of strong paternalism, albeit having their own difficulties.


In „Welfare economics and distributive justice”, Ryszard Kowalski challenges the motivations and feasibility of detaching value-laden components from economic analysis. Drawing on welfare economics, he takes a stance against the efficacy and realism of such an agenda. The author discusses the questions of the utilitarian characteristic of welfare economics, how new developments in this discipline resulted in removing from it its normative content, and the ideal of ethical neutrality in the new welfare economics. An analysis of an ethical dimension of fair allocation is followed by an investigation into whether there are possibilities for a win-win solution to the efficiency- fairness problem. The upheaval of the normative judgments about fair allocation, which happen to frequently collide with the economic category of efficiency, is that these normative judgments cannot be avoided in economic considerations (p 430).


The final chapter of this section, entitled “Homo œconomicus moralis – economic analyses of moral behaviors” by Agnieszka Wincewicz- Price, presents some ways in which moral behaviour can be taken into account in economic analysis, with the focus on their potentials and limits. The major claim of the author is that “in most of the cases, the models ‘supplemented’with moral factors represent an image of an economic subject that is not so substantially different from the standard homo œconomicus, and do not account for many important aspects that characterize the moral nature of human beings” (p. 436). Wincewicz-Price links this observation with the instrumental framework of the standard theory of rational choice. She points to a broader reluctance in economics to substantially revise its concepts, relying rather on the relaxation of standard assumptions that, in turn, allows to continuously employ the standard modelling methods (p. 451). The author discusses also some alternative frameworks that, not without their own problems, attempt to combine in one scheme the conception of utility maximising homo œconomicus with a more realistic notion of homo moralis. The chapter makes a case for greater realism in the economic analysis of human behaviors and interactions.



In the book’s foreword, Uskali Mäki anticipates an increase in contributions by the Polish community to the international debates, inspiring new research directions (p. 10). This expectation provides a starting point to this review, which is structured around a twofold objective : to critically evaluate the book’s contribution, and to pinpoint fruitful directions for discussions in the international community that are picked up by Polish researchers.


Joan Robinson (1962) raised the importance of asking the right questions. Indeed, the questions that are asked determine what will fall within the scope of our reasoning and answers to them. What this book does is that it testifies to the importance of asking meta- questions in economics, and presets the philosophy of economics as a much needed area of research that brings together economics, philosophy of science, ethics, and the historical and social context in which economic ideas develop and are applied to.


The choice of selected topics is classic (more or less in line with, e.g., Reiss 2013), covering the major debates in philosophy of economics. Metaekonomia offers and overview and a critical discussion of the field for students and nonspecialists. While meant for a broader audience, the book promotes also thoughts that inspire further exchange of ideas on concrete, specialized topics, such as the potential of constructivism for economic theory and methodology (Scheuer), or the manifold, new ways to look through the reflexivity perspective (Nowak-Posadzy). Finally, the book has a clearly defined, broader message regarding economics curricula : economists need to study philosophy (Gorazda et al., Hardt) and ethics (Kwarciński). Indeed, this is an inevitable implication of looking at the question of how economics and philosophy are linked together : the connection between the two respective disciplines does not refer only to theoretical or methodological questions, but it also involves issues such as how to discuss economics and economic problems in society, and how to educate economists.


While some of the chapters are uneven in length (and therefore in the scope of considerations), all of the authors bring well-crafted scholarship and style to this collection. In some places, there are details of arguments which I find debatable (in the spirit of academic exchange), but with no doubt the quality of the contributions is outstanding. An example includes an original discussion about the mathematizability of economics by Malawski, who draws on Polish scholarship in the history of philosophy, interpretations of Platonic thought, and philosophy of science (e.g., Bogdan Dembiński, Józef Życiński, or Michał Heller).


Although one of the concerns, when approaching this collection of essays (as it is a concern with any collection) was a possibility of ending up with an eclectic assemblage of chapters on different topics, it deserves recognition that all of the authors have consequently and articulately employed the meta-perspective on philosophical issues in economics. Despite the existence of, at times, diverging stances and positions among some of the authors (e.g., realism of Łukasz Hardt or Andrzej Malawski, constructivism of Bartosz Szeuer, or a neurocognitive approach to scientific explanation supported by Marcin Gorazda, to name a few), the authors remained unified in the meta-assumption about the importance of philosophy for economics and the need to keep exploring various approaches to the multifaceted issues that arise at their crossroads. These elements make Metaekonomia a consistent contribution. The volume does not aim to present a unified vision of the philosophy of economics (which would be deemed to inadequately represent this multivocal field), but rather it offers some of the worthy questions and ways to tackle them in a way that does not pretend to dogmatism or indoctrination. The objectives announced by the editors are therefore well satisfied by this collection. For economists as targeted readership, the book advances a philosophical and ethical glossary and an overview of philosophical themes that are endemic to economics discipline ; It offers this knowledge and discussions in concise ways. For philosophers, the contributions open up several philosophical questions that arise in economics, and provide insights into how economics have influenced, perhaps at times implicitly, developments in other sciences, such as the philosophy of science (e.g., Kawalec).


In addition to raising the importance and practical potential of economic research, the book addresses the major limits of standard economic theory and methodology. But the main message of Metaekonomia that hits home with reference to its critical content towards economics is that it warns against the dangers of dogmatism. Scientific dogmatism in economics may result, through multiple processes and interrelations between economics and its subject, in several high-profile consequences, such as the unforeseen global financial crisis of 2007. But from a meta-economic perspective, the economic crisis, called by many the crisis of economics, offers an invitation and an impetus for rereading the classics in economic thought through a philosophical lens, and for rethinking the meaning and objectives of economic analysis.


The major drawbacks of the publication pertain to the lack of an index and references to the major literature sources in the field. The index of the main terms and names plays an important role in textbooks, and its presence would enhance the value of the book’s contribution. Regarding the bibliographical references, each chapter contains its own bibliography. This structure and choice is well-justified as each chapter is written by a different author and discusses assorted subjects. Therefore, putting the references otherwise would render a bibliographic search inconvenient. However, given that this book is a first textbook of the philosophy of economics in Poland, a combined (even minimal) selection of major literature sources for students would be more than welcome. Aside from these drawbacks, this publication affirms the importance and relevance of the philosophy of economics and shows that nowadays, in our globalized world, it is still relevant to promote scholarship in national communities.


Metaekonomia represents a good balance in providing a textbook overview of the major discussions in the field of philosophy of economics on the one hand, and in opening questions for further debates, inviting readers to critically reflect on the content. In my view, the book plays an integrative role not only in the Polish community of researchers working in philosophy of economics, but it also offers a readily accessible resource for students and researchers not familiar with the field. Working in a national language has the advantage of spreading an interest in the field locally ; although the main international debates are conducted in English, there are as many costs and benefits of working only in English as there are working in a more localized national language. Striving for both is, to my mind, a balanced approach for keeping the debates lively in all relevant circles. Following this line of thought, one of the welcome steps to take for the Polish community, after this excellent publication, could be a publication that directly explores the impact and contribution of Polish intellectual traditions and thinkers to the scholarship in philosophy of economics – e.g., the influence of the Poznan School of Methodology, especially the works of Leszek Nowak on idealizational theory of science (e.g., 1980) that are present in the discussions about realism in economics, or the works of Malawski.


By way of concluding in the spirit of meta-perspective, I will point in the direction of some selected questions and issues raised by the reading of Metaekonomia. One of the issues pertains to the debate on the maximization principle and economic imperialism, and the possibility that (to some extend) every economic phenomena, and the choice of a state of affairs, can be explained away through the maximization principle only ex-post, and certainly not always ex-ante. This problem leads, in turn, to asking about compelling non-welfarist alternatives (so far, in my view, quite limited in existence). Another question worth asking is whether alternatives to the upshots of the mainstream approaches that do escape scientific imperialism are achievable. Last, but not least, the model-based approaches to science are certainly worth a broader deliberation, along with the question about the possibility of economics without laws, alluding to the title of the recent book of Łukasz Hardt (2017).


Małgorzata Dereniowska*



1. All the chapter titles and quotes throughout this text are my own translations from Polish. Any mistakes are my own.

2. Prof. Andrzej Malawski (University of Economics, Cracov) passed away a month before the publication of Metaekonomia. He was a well-recognized and deeply respected Polish scholar specializing in mathematical economics, equilibrium theory, and evolutionary economics.

3. The authors mention in passing an interesting version of the hybrid approach to welfare developed by a Polish scholar, Władysław Tatarkiewicz (2010).





Atkinson A. B. 2009. „Economics as a Moral Science”. Economica 76 (1), 791-804.

Dzionek-Kozłowska J. et Matera R. R. 2015. Ethics in Economic Thought. Selected Issues and Various Perspectives. Lodz-Cracow: Lodz University Press & Jagiellonian University Press [distribution outside Poland by Columbia University Press].

Hardt, Ł. 2017. Economics without Laws. Towards a New Philosophy of Economics. Basingstoke:

Palgrave Macmillan.

Hausman D. M., MCpHerson M. S., et Satz D. 2017. Etyka ekonomii. Analiza ekonomiczna,

filozofia moralności i polityka publiczna. Krakow: Copernicus Centre Press.

Nowak, L. 1980. „On the (Idealizational) Structure of Economic Theories”. Erkenntnis 30 (1-

2): 225-46.

Reiss, J. 2013. Philosophy of Economics. A Contemporary Introduction. London: Routledge.

Robinson, J. 1962. Economic Philosophy. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Sen, A. 1987. On Ethics and Economics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Tatarkiewicz, W. 2010. O szczęściu. Varsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers PWN.

Tirole, J. 2017. „Moral Reasoning, Markets and Organisations”. Lindau Nobel laureate Meetings. Accessed at: http: // moral-reasoning-markets-organisations



* Centre for Ethics and Poverty Research, University of Salzburg, Austria. This work was

completed during a stay in the Visiting Program of the Centre for Ethics and Poverty Studies

(CEPR) at the University of Salbzurg, and the author extends her thanks for CEPR’s support