The Age of Economists
The Age of Economists: Globalization, Growth and Inequalities
- Professor: David Duhamel
- Session: July
- Language of instruction: English
- Number of hours of class: 36
Objective of the Course
The course is an overview of how economic thought has risen over the centuries, and how, since WWII, it has influenced neighboring disciplines such as Political Philosophy, Common Law, Political Science, Sociology and Psychology.
Each course will be devoted to a theme and a select number of authors. Economic news and current events in the largest sense will be mobilized to emphasize the longevity of our subject. We will use case studies, whether historical, experimental or empirical, to engage discussion and show how the history of economic thought shaped - if not totally constructed - some of our most important contemporary debates (the undesirability of inequalities, the value of globalization, the commodification of human interaction, etc.). Dialogue will be encouraged.
“The age of chivalry is gone… now is the age of economists; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.” (Burke, 1790).
Globalization, free trade, growth and its possible end, the crisis, inequalities, the rise of AI and its impact on the labor market… All topics that will be addressed in this course. From Gilgamesh and Aristotle to neuroeconomics and high frequency trading, this course aims to contextualize contemporary debates and underline how economics’ “way of thinking” is now one of, if not the, dominant scheme in our lives, whether at an individual, societal or planetary level. Whether facing a Tinder account, a fiscal policy proposition or global warming, it seems that one’s “natural” reaction is to envision the problem is the same: a combination of cost/benefit analysis in a coordination game framework. How did we come to this?
As Keynes wrote: “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
Better to be a self-aware economist than the slave of a dead one.
Organization of the Course
Class 1. History of economic thought: a pre-history
Class 2. Methodological individualism, from Thomas Aquinas to Rousseau
Class 3. The classics, setting up the table: the invention of growth (Smith) and impending doom (Malthus)
Class 4. The case for globalization (Ricardo and Montesquieu) and the case against
Class 5: Utilitarianism and marginalism: building economics’ language and inventing microeconomics.
Class 6: The Keynesian revolution
Class 7: The neo-liberal counterrevolution. Fair inequalities?
Class 8: Rational Choice Theory: the Trojan horse
Class 9: Imperialism 1: The case of modern theories of justice
Class 10: Imperialism 2: The case of climate change
Class 11: The limits of imperialism.
Teamwork and innovation will be put at a premium during the collective assignments. Each group of five students will research a given subject. Form and substance will both be graded.
David Duhamel earned his doctorate in specialized economics, with a specific focus in the history of economic thought, and is a professor at Sciences Po in Paris, as well as at the Sorbonne. He is an author and consultant of numerous films which explore questions of economics, such as “The New Wolves of Wall Street”, and delivers off-beat presentations on complex topics related to economics such as “Ecoland”.