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Advances on a methodology of design and engineering in economics and political science

Morett, Fernando (2014) Advances on a methodology of design and engineering in economics and political science. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis consists of five chapters: 1.The Mechanical View, 2.Social Machines, 3.The FCC Auction Machine, 4.Self-Interested Knaves, and 5.Self-Interested but Sympathetic. In the first three chapters, I advance a methodological account of current design and engineering in economics and political science, which I call methodological mechanicism. It is not ontological or literal; it relies on a technological metaphor by describing market and state institutions as machines, and the human mind as consisting of a number of mechanisms. I introduce the Mechanical view on scientific theories as distinct from the Syntactic and the Semantic views. The electromagnetic theories from the nineteenth century are used to illustrate this view as well as the use of minimal and maximal analogies in model-building in normal and revolutionary science. The Mechanical view is extended to the social sciences, particularly to mechanism design theory and institutional design, using the International Monetary Fund, the NHS internal markets and the FCC auction as examples. Their blueprints are evaluated using criteria such as shielding and power for calculating joint effects as well as libertarian, dirigiste, egalitarian and inegalitarian properties; and the holistic and piecemeal engineering they adopt. Experimental parameter variation is introduced as a method complementing design. Any design assumes a particular moral psychology, so in chapters four and five I argue that the moral psychology of universal self-interest from Bernard Mandeville, and the related ideas on design and engineering, should be chosen over the moral psychology of self-interest, sympathy and sentiments of humanity from David Hume. Hume finds no solution for knavery in politics and civil society. He accepts egalitarianism as useful and consistent with utilitarian principles; however he rejects it because of some difficulties with its implementation. I show how those difficulties may be overcome, and I explain why his objections are unbalanced and not sufficiently justified.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Fernando Morett
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Supervisor: Cartwright, Nancy

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