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From pleasure machines to moral communities (reflections on a new book by Jeffrey Hodgson)

From pleasure machines to moral communities (reflections on a new book by Jeffrey Hodgson)

Journal of Institutional studies, , Vol. 5 (no. 2),
p. 7-47

Academic economists have a strong influence on political discourse in Russia by delivering through courses of "Economic theory" and "Institutional economics" very harmful conceptual elements for political discourse. This article proposes to change radically these courses in such a way that, instead of self-interest of the economic man, consideration of social relations exclusively through the prism of exchange, society and community as fictions, the state as a bandit and the opportunistic behavior as a norm, they would provide students with very different images of socio-economic interactions. Discursive paradigm in economics, the foundations of which were laid by John Commons, allows us to take another look at the institutions, transactions, contractual relationships, property, enterprises, and institutional change, and the contemporary communitarian philosophy (Michael Sandel, Alasdair Macintyre, Charles Taylor) and the historical, discursive and constructivist institutionalism in political science (Theda Skocpol, Vivien Schmidt, Colin Hay) make it possible to have different interpretations of the state, law, and civil society. This article calls for a return of institutional economics to the humanistic position of its founders and for a strong critic of the so-called "new institutional economics" and "new political economy". The author, following John Dewey, proposes to economists to feed by the results of their empirical research an enlarged political discourse, which will involve the general public. Among these empirical studies the institutional monitoring should play a central role. Performing institutional monitoring means doing research in the framework of the discursive paradigm, which is ontologically and epistemologically the adequate form of research for understanding the socio-economic-political realities.


Keywords: morality, community, discourse, Schmoller, Commons, economic discipline as a philosophy and as a science, reform of economic discipline

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