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PPE: An institutional view


  • Geoffrey Brennan

    (Australian National University, Australia,


One way of responding to the question of what PPE is involves mobilizing the tools that PPE involves. That is the exercise attempted in this article. The object is to use PPE as a method to analyze PPE as a subject matter. PPE is, whatever else, an interdisciplinary enterprise; so the point of departure involves analyzing the role and properties of disciplines within the institutional organization of enquiry. The basic idea is that enquiry is governed by a ‘division of epistemic labour’ in Adam Smith’s sense, and that that division of labour depends for its working on institutions for the reliable certification of claims. Disciplines are such ‘institutions’. As such, they are indispensable. But they impose centripetal forces within the organization of enquiry that stand against interdisciplinary work. Understanding these forces offers some hope of securing an ‘optimal’ compromise between the benefits and costs that disciplines entail. Examples are offered from each of the disciplines involved in PPE separately, and some observations are offered about the architecture of the three disciplines’ interrelationships.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Brennan, 2010. "PPE: An institutional view," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 9(4), pages 379-397, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:9:y:2010:i:4:p:379-397

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 2006-15, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
      • BLACKORBY, Charles & BOSSERT, Walter & DONALDSON, David, 2006. "Population Ethics," Cahiers de recherche 14-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
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    3. Arrhenius, Gustaf, 2000. "An Impossibility Theorem for Welfarist Axiologies," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 247-266, October.
    4. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1997. "Birth-Date Dependent Population Ethics: Critical-Level Principles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 260-284, December.
    5. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1992. "Pigs and Guinea Pigs: A Note on the Ethics of Animal Exploitation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(415), pages 1345-1369, November.
    6. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. " Population Principles with Number-Dependent Critical Levels," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(3), pages 347-368.
    7. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1986. "Social criteria for evaluating population change: An alternative to the Blackorby-Donaldson criterion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 375-381, April.
    8. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 1995. "Intertemporal Population Ethics: Critical-Level Utilitarian Principles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1303-1320, November.
    9. Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2002. "Utilitarianism and the theory of justice," Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare,in: K. J. Arrow & A. K. Sen & K. Suzumura (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 543-596 Elsevier.
    10. Walter Bossert & David Donaldson & Charles Blackorby, 1998. "Uncertainty and critical-level population principles," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(1), pages 1-20.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brennan Geoffrey, 2014. "Hayek’s Conservatism: The Possibility of a Conservative Liberal," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 65(1), pages 331-344, January.


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