Happy New Year!

As we are approaching the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, we thought we would take the opportunity of adding two pieces of information to our good wishes for the New Year:

First, Keele University is advertising a series of studentships for postgraduate research (mainly PhD) and applications from those interested in Philosophy are welcome. The Keele Forum for Philosophical Research is placed in the Research Centre for the Study of Politics, International relations and the Environment, which is part of the Research Institute for Social Sciences. For more information, see the section corresponding to the Research Institute for Social Sciences in the studentships ad. To apply, click here and select “Philosophy” from the list of areas.

Secondly, I note below some details concerning the final 2011 Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture in the Keele series, which proved to be a very successful event. Professor Matthias Klaes delivered a talk on “Moral Sentiments: Economic Philosophy and the Financial Crisis”, on Tuesday, 13 December. Matthias Klaes holds a first degree in business studies, economics and engineering. He obtained his PhD at the Science Studies Unit of the University of Edinburgh before spending two years as a University Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He was the first Director of the Stirling Centre for Economic Methodology (SCEME) at the University of Stirling and joined Keele in 2005 as Professor of Commerce. Widely published in economic methodology and history of economics, he currently works on a re-interpretation of Keynes’s concept of probability. Areas of teaching include philosophy of the social sciences, economic methodology, and business ethics.

The lecture began with the observation that, at the time of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, moral philosophy circumscribed a cosmos of what today have become rather disparate fields of scholarly inquiry: natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and political economy. During the following  two centuries, political economy evolved into that ‘inexact and separate science of economics’ (Hausman), enshrining as it were the central insight of Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ as a sophisticated formal theory of general economic equilibrium. This theory, as an embodiment of modernist economic philosophy, has seen numerous generalisations seeking to account for the uncertainties that have remained characteristic of market economies to date.  The typical starting point for these attempts have been more or less demanding assumptions regarding the economic rationality of market participants. At the same time, alternative economic philosophies have proceeded from radically different conceptions of economic judgement. Prompted by the ongoing economic crisis, the work of John Maynard Keynes in particular has received renewed attention. The lecture explored Keynes’s vision of decision making under radical uncertainty in the context of a conventionalist critique of economic neo-behaviorism.

Happy New Year and many thanks for your support!