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Regular version of the site

Profesor Wade Hands: ‘My conjecture is that economics felt a much more direct influence from the Cold War than the other social sciences’

The HSE international conference on "Social and Human Sciences On Both Sides of the 'Iron Curtain'" starts on October 17, 2013 in Moscow.

Professor D. Wade Hands of the Department of Economics University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA, USA and co-editor of The Journal of Economic Methodology  who will deliver a paper ‘On Agents and Markets: Alternative Cold War Visions of the Relationship Between Rational Agents and Competitive Markets in Walrasian General Equilibrium Theory’ spoke to the HSE news service ahead of the conference about his expectations for a lively and interesting discussion .

— What are the goals of the conference?

— The main goal is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on the impact of the Cold War on the social and human sciences. The focus is interdisciplinary, with scholars involved from a wide range of different fields: the social and human sciences, as well as history, philosophy, science studies, and other fields. A better understanding of how the Cold War conditioned the development of various human and social sciences will of course give us a better understanding of the impact and legacy of the Cold War, but also a better understanding of one of the most important (and under-researched) forces behind the development of contemporary social science.

Judging from the program it looks like the organizers achieved their goal of having scholars from a wide range of disciplines and interested in a wide range of different topics. I suspect that the discussion will be lively and interesting.

— What's the most exciting thing for you as a researcher in the history of social and human sciences in the second half of the 20th century?

— Since my own interest is primarily in the development of modern economic theory – particularly mathematical economic theory – it will be exciting to hear scholars who are more familiar than I am with developments in mathematical economics taking place within the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s. I feel quite knowledgeable about the development of "Western" mathematical economics during this period, and I have some limited knowledge (and a lot of conjectures) about what was happening "on the other side," but it will be very interesting to learn more. My conjecture is that economics felt a much more direct influence from the Cold War than the other social sciences, but I will need to wait and see if that conjecture is confirmed by the conference.

— What would you recommend young people to read to understand the processes which happened in the second half of the 20th century?

— Since my research area is the history and philosophy of "Western" economics, my recommendations concern research in that area. I would recommend:

Amadae, Sonja M. (2003), Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy: The Cold War Origins of Rational Choice Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bernstein, Michael A. (2001), A Perilous Progress: Economists and Public Purpose in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Mirowski, Philip (2002), Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

— What do you think about the way the HSE has cooperated with international researchers in this area?

— I think it is a very important endeavor and I hope that this is the beginning of many more future opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service


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