Econ8 (Social ontology)


ALL supervisions take place in Room 117, Mary Allan Building, Homerton College.

Access to Mary Allan building is from Hills Road, down the road from the Faculty of Education; Room 117 is up the stairs, through the corridor (past the vending machines), and on your left. There are porters at the entrance, so if you encounter any difficulties, ask and they can point you in the right direction.

It’s about 30 mins walking/15 minutes by bike to downtown, so bear this in mind re: planning. There is cycle parking in front of the Mary Allan building.

Please send essays in Word format, with file name F(irstname)Lastname_Econ8_Number, e.g. JBacevic_Econ8_1.

Supervision 1, 6 February

3-4: Amy and Vedanth

4-5: Alexander and George

Essay deadline: 4 February, 5PM

Essay question 1:

  • Does economics/social theorising need social ontology?
  • Critically compare the Cambridge/positioning conception of social ontology with that defended by Berkeley/John Searle.
  • Illustrate your answer to (ii) by briefly indicating how the two groups

                 accommodate one or more central phenomena, like money, the firm, or

                 any other of your choosing.

       (iv)   Which theory fares best and why?


Core Reading: see ‘Social Ontology Moodle Site’, section ‘Debates in Social Ontology’, Debate 1, entries 1, 2 and 5.

(This is obviously all new to most or all you, and there are some difficult ideas to get on top of by week 4. Try to get as far as you can, giving at least some thought to all 4 parts; then the supervisions should be more helpful. Unfortunately, we have only 2 supervisions to cover everything.)

Supervision 2, 6 March

3-4: Amy and Vedanth

4-5: Alexander and George

Essay deadline: 4 March, 6 PM

Essay question 2:

(i)      Explain the claim that Veblen coined the term neoclassical economics to express an ontological thesis.

(ii)     Compare the latter thesis with Keynes’ early analysis of the preconditions for successful econometrics.

(iii)    Heterodox economists, Rethinking Economics students and Cambridge pluralists tend to use the term neoclassical economics/economists when they critically comment on others. How do you assess the manner in which they do so from a Veblenian and/or Keynesian methodological perspective?


Core Reading: see ‘Social Ontology Moodle Site’, reading list for lecture 5, especially papers 5.1 and 5.2.