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Yet another review of The Invisible Hand in Economics

Yet another review of The Invisible Hand in Economics

Warren J. Samuels’ review of The Invisible Hand in Economics kindly starts with the following sentence:

This study by a sensitive and imaginative intellect is a substantive contribution to the literature  developing  the  meaning  of  the  concept  of  ‘‘the  invisible  hand’’  while simultaneously attempting to establish how interpretation can be structured to convey ‘‘understanding’’ albeit not ‘‘truth.’’

However, Samuels review is the most critical review I have recieved so far. You may read the full review here.

If you are interested in reading  other reviews of The Invisible Hand in Economics, click here.

Wade Hands’ Review of The Invisible Hand in Economics

Wade Hands’ Review of The Invisible Hand in Economics

Here is the last paragraph of Wade Hands’ review of The Invisible Hand in Economics (History of Political Economy 2010; 42: 388-390):

“In summary, I found Aydinonat’s book to be a very important contribution to the literature. This is not to say that I would not quibble about specific details of his argument – but it does provide a very useful, and quite coherent, framework for thinking about the explanatory power and adequacy of invisible hand-type explanations. Such explanations are so pervasive in economics – for some they define economics – and yet we previously lacked any coherent framework for situating them within the broader context of scientific explanations in general. Aydinonat has provided us with a badly needed framework for investigating these issues. The Invisible Hand in Economics will not be the last word on invisible hand explanations, but it will become an obligatory reference point for any future research on the subject, and I recommend it to anyone who would like to better understand this very important class of models. “

If you’d like to read the full review you must visit History of Political Economy’s web site.

“The Invisible Hand viewed and reviewed” by Edna Ullmann-Margalit

“The Invisible Hand viewed and reviewed” by Edna Ullmann-Margalit

Here are highlights from Edna Ullmann-Margalit’s review of my book:

“The book’s choice of the topic with which economists and philosophers could start engaging each other cannot be improved on. The notion of the invisible hand, and the type of explanations it gives rise to, of social patterns of behavior as unintended consequences of individual actions and interactions, are just right for the cross-fertilization between a variety of philosophical fields, prominently including the philosophy of science, on one side, and economic theory, prominently including game theory, on the other. Moreover, the experience of reading this book leaves the reader feeling that the choice of author for this undertaking can hardly be improved on either.

Trained both in economics and in philosophy, Emrah Aydinonat has formal and technical skills as well as a historical sensibility and a keen intellectual curiosity, and he has the tenacity to go on digging for gem-stones where previous visitors to the same terrain seem content with surface pebbles. Setting himself the task of developing a framework capable of making sense of the marketplace of extant models, and then to use this framework to ‘gain new insights into the contemporary literature that characterizes institutions and macro-social structures as unintended consequences of human action’ (p. 7), he has produced a book that is pleasingly disciplined and well organized.”

“Aydinonat’s book provides a historical context in which the notion of the invisible hand emerged, and analyzes the concepts and the distinctions behind this notion at such a high resolution that no scholar is likely to revisit this territory ever again. Any and every future discussion of the invisible hand – and there are sure to be such – will from now on make the obligatory reference to this book and simply take off from it.”

Of course, I have only quoted the nice parts. In order to read to full review you need download it:
“The Invisible Hand viewed and reviewed” Edna Ullmann-Margalit, Journal of Economic Methodology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13501780903542870

Review by Anna Alexandrova

Review by Anna Alexandrova

Here is the introduction to Anna Alexandrova‘s review of The Invisible Hand in Economics (forthcoming in Economics and Philosophy):

“Where do social institutions and phenomena come from? A venerable tradition in economics seeks to explain some of these institutions and phenomena, for example, money, traffic rules, racial segregation and many others, using a concept of invisible hand. Such explanations show a phenomenon to be an unintended outcome of a multitude of actions and interactions of individual persons. In a book based on his doctoral dissertation, Emrah Aydinonat seeks to a) give an account of what sort of social phenomena are susceptible to this sort of explanation, b) evaluate the success of some of the most famous explanations of this type, and along the way, c) draw lessons for philosophical accounts of formal models in economics. In many ways, this book represents philosophy of economics at its finest. It is impeccably informed on the present state of economics, sensitive to the history of the discipline and full of interesting and thoughtful philosophical analysis. A significant problem, however, is that the central notion of the paper – partial potential explanation – does not receive an appropriate articulation. After presenting Aydinonat’s views, I explain the problems and why they matter.”

You may view the full review by clicking here!

A modification of inivisible-hand consequences?

A modification of inivisible-hand consequences?

Aki Lehtinen proposes a modification to my account of invisible-hand consequences. My account of invisible-hand consequences excludes unintended social consequences that were brought about by actions of individuals who were intending to bring about social consequences. Lehtinen argues that “the problem with this condition is that it is too strong: it rules out cases in which we are inclined to say that a model provides an invisible-hand account even though it violates the condition.” Here is what he says in his introduction:

“N. Emrah Aydinonat presents an informative account of invisible-hand explanations in his recent book (Aydinonat 2008). The purpose of this comment is to propose a slight modification in order to accommodate some cases that his account, by virtue of being too strong, rules out as invisible-hand models.

I propose that Lehtinen’s (2006, 2007a, 2007b, 2008) model of counterbalancing strategic votes should be taken to provide an invisible-hand account. The models presented in the different papers are different in their details, but I will refer to them collectively as the ‘counterbalancing model’ because they are all based on the same counterbalancing mechanism. The consequences depicted in this model violate only one of Aydinonat’s conditions, and I believe it is better to slightly re-formulate his account than to conclude that the model does not count as an invisible-hand account. Given that it is at least a potential invisible-hand model, and has not previously been discussed in the literature, analysing its properties may have some independent relevance to students of economic and social-scientific methodology because models that truly provide invisible-hand accounts are rare.”

Lehtinen, Aki (forthcoming) “Intentions in Invisible-Hand Accounts”, Journal of Economic Methodology. You may read Aki Lehtinen’s commentary by clicking here!

In The Invisible Hand in Economics, I make a distinction between model-worlds and the real world. I think Aki Lehtinen may be conflating the intentions of real world individual voters (which may have individual and social intentions at the same time) with model-world voters (which only have intentions directed at the individual level). In the model-worlds of Lehtinen (2006, 2007ab, 2008) model-individuals engage in expected utility calculations which (it seems) has nothing to do with social intentions. Thus, the results produced in these models seems to satisfy the conditions of my invisible-hand consequences. However, Lehtinen’s point requires close attention. I hope to address this issue in the coming months.

Review by Nicola Giocoli

Review by Nicola Giocoli

Here is a short review of The Invisible Hand in Economics by Nicola Giocoli:

“Conjectural models aim at devising the initial conditions required for individual actions to generate a given social phenomenon as unintended consequence. Social scientists make frequent use of this modeling technique. Indeed the list of those who have applied it – from Smith to Menger, from Schelling to Lewis – reads likely a veritable “who’s who” of the last 250 years of social sciences. Yet the question of how these purely speculative models may actually enjoy any explanatory power with respect to real world phenomena has only rarely been tackled. Aydinonat’s outstanding work fills this gap by thoroughly investigating the philosophical and methodological challenges posed by conjectural models and by developing a coherent and persuasive framework to account for the role of abstract theorizing in the social sciences. The book is a candidate to become compulsory reading for methodologists and philosophers of science, as well as for those economists who take seriously the issue of their models’ epistemological foundations.”

Nicola Giocoli (Professor of Economics, University of Pisa)

Review by Robert Sugden

Review by Robert Sugden

Here is a short review of The Invisible Hand in Economics by Robert Sugden:

“There is a long tradition in the social sciences, going back to Adam Smith, of explaining social phenomena as the unintended consequences of human actions. In this illuminating book, Aydinonat investigates the structure of such explanations and the nature of the claims that can legitimately be derived from them. In the process, he analyses some of the classic ideas in social theory – Smith’s invisible hand, Carl Menger’s explanation of the emergence of money, Thomas Schelling’s analysis of racial segregation, and David Lewis’s theory of convention – with acuity and subtlety. This is a significant contribution to the philosophy of social science which will also engage the interest of reflective economic theorists.”

Robert Sugden (Professor of Economics, University of East Anglia)