Lausanne: three PhD Students (for 4 years, 100%)

Deadline: May 21, 2024


    SNSF presents the project “Normativity and its Foundations in Lausanne School and Normative Economics”, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation—SNSF (Division I), based at the Walras-Pareto Centre for the History of Economic and Political Thought at the University of Lausanne. The project will start on August 1, 2024, and will be carried out over a four-year period.


    To complete the project team, we intend to recruit three PhD students (for 4 years, at 100%) to work with us.


    The first Ph.D. student will work on the nature and place of normative considerations in Léon Walras’s project and on the ontological, epistemological, and theoretical specificities of the latter, particularly in relation to the other protagonists of the marginalist revolution. They may also (or alternatively) study the similarities and differences between the role of general equilibrium analysis and its normative function in Walras and the writings of neo-Walrasians, notably Kenneth Arrow and Gérard Debreu. Given the significant influence of the Bourbaki group on Debreu’s understanding of the link between social phenomena, economics and mathematics, the PhD student could also propose a comparative analysis between Walras’s philosophy of science and that of the Bourbaki group, particularly concerning the ontological status of mathematics. An excellent command of French (written and spoken) is essential for this position. Fluency in English is also highly recommended, and knowledge of Italian would be an asset.



    The second Ph.D. student will focus on the link between Vilfredo Pareto’s political economy and his writings on sociology and psychology, examining the implicit or explicit presence of normative considerations in his contributions to these disciplines. The goal is to understand whether Pareto’s sociological writings allow us to reinterpret his ordinalist approach, his idea that psychology should be the foundation of economics, and his positions regarding the role of norms and values in the social sciences. They may also (or alternatively) examine the relationship between Pareto’s socio-economic thought and the writings of the founders of welfare economics. Although several articles and books have studied this question, we still lack a rigorous and systematic assessment of the similarities and differences between Pareto and the writings of John Hicks, Harold Hotelling, Abraham Bergson, Nicolas Kaldor and Paul Samuelson. A good command of French and Italian (written and spoken) is essential for this position. Fluency in English is also highly recommended.



    The third Ph.D. student will study the complex relationship between Paretian welfare economics and social choice theory (including the writings of Amartya Sen). This relationship is paradoxical since social choice theory can be seen as either a refinement or a rejection of Paretian welfare economics. The Ph.D. student will propose a systematic assessment of the historical context of the emergence of social choice theory and the reaction of leading welfare economists, such as Paul Samuelson, to social choice theory, examining not only their technical writings on the subject but also their correspondence (e.g., that between Kenneth Arrow and Samuelson). They may also (or alternatively) study social choice theory from the point of view of its ontology and epistemological specificities. An excellent command of English (written and spoken) and the ability to work in French are essential for this position.



    For more information on the project and the positions, please refer to the link indicated for each of the three positions, as well as the website of the project:



    The deadline for applications is May 21, 2024. Interested parties can contact Roberto Baranzini ( and Sina Badiei (