THE FOUNDATIONS OF ECONOMICS

Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
THE FOUNDATIONS OF ECONOMICS
Course code
EM2100 (AF:365136 AR:193542)
Modality
On campus classes
ECTS credits
6
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
SECS-P/01
Period
1st Semester
Course year
1
Where
VENEZIA
Moodle
Go to Moodle page
The purpose of this course is to illustrate and discuss the basic tools of economic analysis – its conceptual foundations – using a historical approach.
This is a selective and (self)critical course on the history of economic thought. Selective because, (i) we will focus only on some basic concepts, and, (ii) we will start around 1200 and make only cursory remarks about economic thinking before double-entry book-keeping was understood. Critical because the historical approach should allow us to see the weaknesses of the concepts examined and the intrinsic limitations of any kind of socio-economic analysis.
There are no specific prerequisites for the course. Attendance to the course is voluntary and the requirements are interest and motivation.
Which questions do I believe to be foundational? As we have fifteen meetings, we will use the first one to explain why I have chosen Amatino Manucci as the first practicing analytical economist. The following seven weeks will cover the following topics, one per week.

1) Prices. Does everything have a price? Can we compute the price of everything?
2) Value. Exchange is meant to consist in the trading of equally valuable objects. How do we know this is or is not the case? Is there a difference between “exchange value”, “use value”, “cost”, and “price”?
3) Money. Exchange is almost never through bartering of commodities and almost always through a "monetary" payment. Why do we take money in exchange for valuable things? What determines the value of money? Is money really a mystery?
4) Production. Who produces what and what does “production” mean for economic analysis? If production is the source of any value how do the factors of production receive their share of such value? Where do the rules of the game come from?
5) Equilibrium. Economies function: production takes place, commodities are exchanged, people get rewarded and they keep trading. Is there any “law” behind these undeniable facts or is it just a chance?
6) Growth. Apparently we are “richer” than Augustus was, even of Luis XIV. Is that true? Is there any “economics” in “economic growth” or is it all an illusion?
7) Inequality. We are also unequal, some of us have a lot and some little. This has been true at least since the Neolithic Transition. Can economic analysis say anything about this fact or, again, is it all chance?
Main references:
Selected readings from either THE NEW PALGRAVE DICTIONARY OF ECONOMICS or WIKIPEDIA/ECONOMICS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics and related pages.

Suggested readings:

McCloskey, D. (1982), The Rhetoric of Economics (Rhetoric of the Human Sciences). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press (2nd edition, 1998).
Schumpeter, J. (1954), History of Economic Analysis, New York: Oxford University Press.

Further suggested readings will be given during the lectures and through the Moodle page for the course


Assessments through short critical essays and interactions during the course
Lectures and critical discussions
English
written and oral

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Poverty and inequalities" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 08/09/2021