Sufficient Reason: Volitional Pragmatism and the Meaning of Economic Institutions / Edition 1

Sufficient Reason: Volitional Pragmatism and the Meaning of Economic Institutions / Edition 1

by Daniel W. Bromley
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691124191

ISBN-13: 9780691124193

Pub. Date: 03/13/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

In the standard analysis of economic institutions—which include social conventions, the working rules of an economy, and entitlement regimes (property relations)—economists invoke the same theories they use when analyzing individual behavior. In this profoundly innovative book, Daniel Bromley challenges these theories, arguing instead for "volitional

Overview

In the standard analysis of economic institutions—which include social conventions, the working rules of an economy, and entitlement regimes (property relations)—economists invoke the same theories they use when analyzing individual behavior. In this profoundly innovative book, Daniel Bromley challenges these theories, arguing instead for "volitional pragmatism" as a plausible way of thinking about the evolution of economic institutions. Economies are always in the process of becoming. Here is a theory of how they become.

Bromley argues that standard economic accounts see institutions as mere constraints on otherwise autonomous individual action. Some approaches to institutional economics—particularly the "new" institutional economics—suggest that economic institutions emerge spontaneously from the voluntary interaction of economic agents as they go about pursuing their best advantage. He suggests that this approach misses the central fact that economic institutions are the explicit and intended result of authoritative agents—legislators, judges, administrative officers, heads of states, village leaders—who volitionally decide upon working rules and entitlement regimes whose very purpose is to induce behaviors (and hence plausible outcomes) that constitute the sufficient reasons for the institutional arrangements they create.

Bromley's approach avoids the prescriptive consequentialism of contemporary economics and asks, instead, that we see these emergent and evolving institutions as the reasons for the individual and aggregate behavior their very adoption anticipates. These hoped-for outcomes comprise sufficient reasons for new laws, judicial decrees, and administrative rulings, which then become instrumental to the realization of desired individual behaviors and thus aggregate outcomes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691124193
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/13/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface ix

PRELUDE 1
CHAPTER ON: Prospective Volition 3
CHAPTER TWO: The Task at Hand 20

PART ONE: On Economic Institutions 29

CHAPTER THREE: Understanding Institutions 31
CHAPTER FOUR: The Content of Institutions 43
CHAPTER FIVE: Institutional Change 67

PART TWO: Volitional Pragmatism 85

CHAPTER SIX: Fixing Belief 87
CHAPTER SEVEN: Explaining 103
CHAPTER EIGHT: Prescribing and Predicting 115
CHAPTER NINE: Volitional Pragmatism 129

PART THREE: Volitional Pragmatism at Work 153

CHAPTER TEN: Thinking as a Pragmatist 155
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Volitional Pragmatism and Explanation 166
CHAPTER TWELVE: Volitional Pragmatism and the Evolution of Institutions 180
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Volitional Pragmatism and Economic Regulations 199
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Sufficient Reason 212

Bibliography 225
Index 235

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