Emeritus Professor of Philosophy & Intellectual History
I joined The Open University as an economist with an interest in the history of economics within an interdisciplinary context, but over the years my research interests have broadened to intellectual history and philosophy.
PhD, MSc, BSc (Econ), London
My current project derives from a dissatisfaction with individualistic models of agency for analysing cooperation and other situations where multiple agents act (also react) in shared social context, yet where collective models have difficulties analysing the role of individuals.
I started by developing a new ‘intersubjective’ model of agents’ understanding of shared situations in terms of the shared phenomenological standpoint of ’each of us’. As the notion of ‘each of us’ includes both individual agency (‘each’ and ‘each of us’ are grammatically singular) and ‘us’, which I term an ‘inclusive plurality’, it dissolves the individualist-collective dichotomy that characterises many debates in philosophy and the social sciences. The foundational paper for this aspect of the project is Brown (2019) on shared, ie intersubjective, beliefs, which argues for a new non-individualistic model of common belief, without infinite regress, in terms of beliefs that 'each of us' has. Brown (forthcoming) applies this model of intersubjective agency and common belief to 2x2 one-shot noncooperative games, with new results for some much-discussed games because best-reply reasoning and Nash equilibrium no longer apply. For example, High is the only rational choice in Hi-Lo, and cooperation is a possible rational choice in the Prisoners’ Dilemma.
My current thinking is that my model of intersubjective agency corresponds to a phenomenological application of the ‘plural reference’ approach which eschews the dominant ‘singularist’ approach of treating plurals in terms of singular entities. Current work attempts to explore the implications of this, including in relation to the collective action problem and social norms.
(18 Feb 2020)
I have a long-standing interest in Adam Smith (eg Brown 1994a, 1997a). Recent work has engaged with agency, intersubjectivity and moral judgment (eg Brown 2009, 2011a, 2012, 2016a).
I am the founding editor of The Adam Smith Review (vols 1-5, 2004-2010, were published during my editorship).
I had planned to be working towards a collection of essays on Adam Smith, with the working title: Adam Smith: Agency, Ethics and Economics, but this has been derailed by the project on intersubjective model of agency. Some connections between the two projects are Brown (2011a, 2012).
I also have a long-standing interest in John Locke and in issues of rights and property (eg Brown 1987, 1999a, 2001a, 2006a). I had hoped to return to this work although it too has been derailed by the new project on intersubjective model of agency.
My work in intellectual history and the history of economics has raised questions of interpretation, historiography and textuality (eg Brown 1993a, 1994b & d, 2002, 2003, 2007)
A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.
‘The impartial spectator and moral judgment’, Econ Journal Watch (2016a) 13: 232-248, https://econjwatch.org/articles/the-impartial-spectator-and-moral-judgment
'The Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres’, in Adam Smith: His Life, Thought, and Legacy, (2016b) R.P. Hanley (ed.), Princeton University Press, pp. 48–66. preprint
Review of Lisa Herzog (2013) Inventing the Market: Smith, Hegel, and Political Theory, Oxford University Press, in Economics and Philosophy (2015) 31: 305-12.
‘Intersubjectivity and moral judgment in The Theory of Moral Sentiments’, in Intersubjectivity and Objectivity in Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl, (2012) C. Fricke and D. Føllesdal (eds), pp. 243-272, Frankfurt and Paris: Ontos-Verlag. preprint
‘Intersubjectivity, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Prisoners’ Dilemma’, The Adam Smith Review (2011a) 6: 172-90, F. Forman-Barzilai (ed.), Routledge. preprint
‘Pereosmyslivaya “problemu Adama Smita”’, in ISTOKI: sociokulturnaya sreda ekonomicheskoy deyatelnosti i ekonomicheskogo poznaniya (2011b) V. Avtonomov, O. Ananyin, I. Boldyrev, L. Vasina, N. Makasheva (eds), Moscow: Higher School of Economics Press, pp. 321-353; ‘Rereading the “Adam Smith problem”’, ISTOKI: Economics in the Cultural Context. preprint
The Philosophy of Adam Smith: The Adam Smith Review. Essays Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (2010a) vol. 5, edited with Samuel Fleischacker, Routledge, pp. 266.
Introduction. The Philosophy of Adam Smith: The Adam Smith Review. Essays Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of The Theory of Moral Sentiments (2010b) 5: 1-11, with Samuel Fleischacker, Routledge. .
‘Adam Smith: between morals and markets?’, in Politik Iktisat ve Adam Smith (2010), H. Kapucu, M. Aydin, I. Siriner, F. Morady and Ü. Çetin (eds), Yön Yayinlari: Turkey, pp. 13-22.
‘Agency and discourse: revisiting the Adam Smith problem’, in the Elgar Companion to Adam Smith (2009), J.T. Young (ed.), Edward Elgar, pp. 52-72; preprint
Review of the Cambridge Companion to Adam Smith, K. Haakonssen (ed.), in Economics and Philosophy (2008) 24: 259-65.
'Historical interpretation, intentionalism and philosophy of mind', Journal of the Philosophy of History (2007) 1: 25-62.
‘Rights, liberties and duties: reformulating Hohfeld’s scheme of legal relations?’, Current Legal Problems 2006a, (2005) 58: 343-68
'Choice, moral responsibility and alternative possibilities', Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2006b) 9: 265-88.
Reprint of ‘Decanonizing discourses: textual analysis and the history of economic thought’, in Recent Developments in Economic Methodology (2006c) J.B. Davis (ed.), Edward Elgar, vol. 1, pp. 101-21; first published in Economics and Language (1993) W. Henderson et al (eds), Routledge.
‘Moralische Dilemmata und der Dialogismus von Adam Smiths Theorie der moralischen Gefühle‘ (‘Moral dilemmas and dialogism in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments’), in Adam Smith als Moralphilosoph (Adam Smith as Moral Philosopher) (2005a) C. Fricke und H.-P. Schütt (eds), Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 190-213.
Review of Samuel Fleischacker, On Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: A Philosophical Companion (2004) Princeton, in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (2005b) 19: 25-6.
Entries on ‘Adam Smith’ and ‘John Locke’ in The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists (2004a), D. Rutherford (Editor-in-Chief), Thoemmes Continuum, pp. 689-93, 1117-22.
Review of Leonidas Montes, Adam Smith in Context: A Critical Reassessment of Some Central Components of his Thought (2004b) Palgrave Macmillan, in History of Economic Thought Newsletter (2004) 73: 21-4.
Review of James R. Otteson, Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (2002) CUP, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy (2004c) 12: 355-58.
‘Textuality and the history of economics: intention and meaning’, in A Companion to the History of Economic Thought (2003), W.J. Samuels, J.E. Biddle & J.B. Davis (eds), Blackwell, pp. 538-52.
‘On some problems with weak intentionalism for intellectual history’, History and Theory (2002) 41: 198-208.
‘“Rights” in Aristotle’s Politics and Nicomachean Ethics?’, The Review of Metaphysics (2001a) 55: 269-95.
‘Self-government: the master trope of republican liberty’, The Monist (2001b) 84: 60-76; Issue ‘Civic Republicanism and Political Philosophy’, Adv. Ed. P. Pettit.
Review of Nicholas Hudson, Writing and European Thought, 1600-1830 (1994) Cambridge University Press, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy (2000) 8: 374-377.
Review of An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Œconomy by Sir James Steuart (1998) Andrew S. Skinner (ed.) with Noboru Kobayashi and Hiroshi Mizuta, Pickering & Chatto, in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (2000) 14: 21-22.
‘The “figure” of God and the limits to liberalism: a rereading of Locke’s Essay and Two Treatises’, Journal of the History of Ideas (1999a) 60: 83-100.
‘Rhetoric and Political Economy’, in Encyclopedia of Political Economy (1999b), P. A. O’Hara (ed.), pp. 996-98, Routledge.
Review of Salim Rashid, The Myth of Adam Smith (1998) Edward Elgar, and Charles L. Griswold, Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment (1999c) CUP, in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (1999) 13: 31-2.
‘On theological discourse in Locke’s Essay’, Locke Newsletter (1998a) 29: 39-57.
‘Adam Smith’, in Elgar Companion to Classical Economics (1998b), H. D. Kurz and N. Salvadori (eds), 2: 365-70, Edward Elgar.
‘“Mere inventions of the imagination”: a survey of recent literature on Adam Smith’, Economics and Philosophy (1997a) 13: 281-312.
‘Dialogism, the gaze and the emergence of economic discourse’, New Literary History (1997b) 28: 697-710.
Chinese translation of ‘Decanonizing discourses: textual analysis and the history of economic thought’, in Cultural and Social Studies, vol. 2, The Rhetoric of Social Sciences (1997c) pp. 159-84, Oxford University Press (China); first published in Economics and Language (1993).
Review of Women of Value: Feminist Essays on the History of Women in Economics (1995) Mary Ann Dimond, Robert W. Dimond and Evelyn L. Forget (eds) in The Manchester School (1997d) 65: 97-8.
Reprint of ‘The emergence of the economy’, in Modernity: An Introduction to Modern Societies (1996) S. Hall, D. Held, D. Hubert and K. Thompson (eds), pp. 90-121, Oxford: Blackwell; first published in Formations of Modernity (1992) S. Hall and B. Gieben (eds), Polity Press.
‘The moral self and ethical dialogism: three genres’, Philosophy and Rhetoric (1995a) 28: 276-99.
‘Reading Adam Smith’s texts on morals and wealth’, Economics and Philosophy (1995b) 11: 345-51.
Review of Jerry Z. Muller, Adam Smith in His Time and Ours: Designing the Decent Society (1993), in History of European Ideas (1995c) 21: 116-17.
Adam Smith’s Discourse: Canonicity, Commerce and Conscience (1994a) Routledge.
‘Higgling: the language of markets in economic discourse’, History of Political Economy (1994b) Annual Supplement to Volume 26, N. De Marchi and M. Morgan (eds), Duke University Press, pp. 66-93.
‘Metanarratives and economic discourse’, Scandanavian Journal of Economics (1994c) 96: 83-93.
‘The economy as text’, in New Directions in Economic Methodology (1994d) R. Backhouse (ed.), Routledge, pp. 368-82; Chinese translation of volume, 2000.
Review of Beyond Economic MAN (1993) M.A. Ferber and J.A. Nelson (eds), in Journal of Economic Method (1994e) 1: 301-06.
‘Decanonizing discourses: textual analysis and the history of economic thought’, in Economics and Language (1993a) W. Henderson, T. Dudley-Evans and R. Backhouse (eds), Routledge, pp. 64-84.
Review of Spencer J. Pack, Capitalism as a Moral System: Adam Smith’s Critique of the Free Market Economy (1991) and Patricia H. Werhane, Adam Smith and his Legacy for Modern Capitalism (1991), in Economic Journal (1993b) 103: 230-32.
‘The dialogic experience of conscience: Adam Smith and the voices of Stoicism’, Eighteenth-Century Studies (1992/3) 26: 233-60.
‘The emergence of the economy’, in Formations of Modernity (1992) S. Hall and B. Gieben (eds) pp. 127-75, Polity Press.
‘Signifying voices: reading the “Adam Smith problem”’, Economics and Philosophy (1991a) 7: 187-220.
‘On Keynes’s inverse relation between real wages and employment: a debate over excess capacity’, Review of Political Economy (1991b) 3: 439-65.
Review of The Language of Economics: The Analysis of Economics Discourse (1990) T. Dudley-Evans and W. Henderson (eds), in Economic Journal (1991c) 101: 1315-17.
‘Value and property in the history of economic thought: an analysis of the emergence of scarcity’, Œconomia (1987) 7: 85-112, Série PE de la révue Economies et Sociétés.