Sheila Dow is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling and co-Convener of SCEME. She has worked previously as an economist with the Bank of England and the Government of Manitoba and as an advisor on monetary policy to the UK Treasury Select Committee. She has published in the areas of methodology, the history of economic thought (especially Hume, Smith and Keynes), money and banking and regional finance. Recent books include Economic Methodology: An Inquiry, OUP, 2002, and A History of Scottish Economic Thought, Routledge, 2006, co-edited, with Alexander Dow. Her new book, Foundations for New Economic Thinking: a collection of essays, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in spring 2012.
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Uncertainty is an unavoidable feature of economic life, although we may cope with it sometimes by ignoring it. Institutions, conventions and behaviour are all conditioned by uncertainty, and they in turn condition uncertainty in a reflexive manner.
The purpose of the paper is to argue for attention to be paid, not only to choice of theory, but also to choice of theoretical approach, in order to address issues posed by the crisis.
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The Institute recently sponsored several panels at the Kiel Global Economic Symposium. In particular, the panel on Income Distribution and Mobility struck us as likely to be of especially wide interest. We are grateful for the participation of all the scholars on them and are pleased to present summaries of their presentations here.
Studies in psychology, neuroscience, biology, and many of the social sciences have long illustrated that human beings react very different from what economics textbooks tell you to expect when they are operating under conditions of radical uncertainty.