Professor Heikki Patomaki

Subject: History and Philosophy of Economics

Department/Institution: Faculty of Economics


Research Interests:

Professor Patomäki is a professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki. Trained in politics (especially international relations), philosophy and economics, his research revolves around three areas of study: (i) theory and methodology of social sciences, through applying and developing critical realism, which involves a transformative open-systemic account of causation; (ii) political economy, both via constructing political economy explanations of various processes and outcomes and in terms of developing and proposing alternative policies and institutional arrangements; and (iii) global political theory, centring around notions of peace (security), democracy and justice. The logic of critical social-scientific explanation and the related theory of democratic emancipation is the main thread connecting these areas.

Currently, Patomäki is working on the complex conceptual puzzle related to the separation of historical time and theory in economics and some strands of political economy. This problem can be traced back to the central aporia of Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics. Whereas the mechanistic aspects of Marshall’s Principles became dominant through particular contexts of selection, in the Cambridge tradition of Keynesian and post-Keynesian economics, the more evolutionary and historical metaphors prospered. As Marshall lacked a fully developed ontology (rather than sketched set of methodological insights most fully stated in the appendix to the Principles) to match his intuitions about time and causation in open systems, the Marshallian aporia remained a source of ambiguities for Keynes and the post-Keynesian tradition in Cambridge. Further ontological analysis provides a way to reconsider the specific issues of time, complexity and change raised by Marshall’s Principles. The chief idea of the project is that this provides a useful bridging point to consider the limitations imposed on current mainstream theory and the potentials and limits of Keynes and post-Keynesians as a productive way forward for the study of the economy.

Selected publications:

  • 'Reflexivity of Anticipations in Economics and Political Economy', in R.Poli (ed.) Handbook of Anticipation. Theoretical and Applied Aspects of the Use of Future in Decision Making, Springer: Cham, first online December 2018, DOI:; print edition forthcoming.
  • Disintegrative Tendencies in Global Political Economy: Exits and Conflicts, Routledge 2018.
  • 'Contrast Explanation in Economics: Its Context, Meaning, and Potential', with J.Morgan, Cambridge Journal of Economics, (41):5, 2017, pp.1391–1418.
  • 'Praxis, Politics and the Future: A Dialectical Critical Realist Account of World-Historical Causation', Journal of International Relations and Development, (20):4, 2017, pp.805-825.
  • 'On the Complexities of Time and Temporality: Implications for World History and Global Futures', Australian Journal of Politics and History, (57):3, 2011, pp.339-352.