David Patterson Ellerman (born March 14, 1943) is a philosopher and author who works in the fields of economics and political economy, social theory and philosophy, and in mathematics. He has written extensively on workplace democracy based on a modern treatment of the labor theory of property and the theory of inalienable rights as rights based on de facto inalienable capacities.
His undergraduate degree is in philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1965), and he has master's degrees in Philosophy of Science (1967) and in Economics (1968), and a doctorate in Mathematics (1971) all from Boston University.
He has been in and out of teaching in economics, mathematics, accounting, computer science, and operations research departments in various universities (1970–90), co-founded the Industrial Co-operative Association in Massachusetts in the 1980s, founded and managed a consulting firm in East Europe (1990-2), and worked in the World Bank from 1992 to 2003 where he was an economic advisor to the Chief Economist (Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern). Now he is a visiting scholar at the University of California in Riverside.
In his 2007 article on "The Role of Capital in Capitalist Firms," Ellerman achieved a significant breakthrough in analyzing the basic production function of economics in terms of the logic of his labor theory of property. The latter approach has been extensively developed by Ellerman as an explanation and justification for worker-owned firms in co-operative business models and co-operative economics. In addition to his older work in political economy, property theory, and theory of inalienable rights, he has returned to work in the mathematical sciences by developing partition logic (the dual to ordinary Boolean subset logic) and a related approach to information theory. Currently he is developing these ideas to provide an interpretation of quantum mechanics.
- Helping People Help Themselves: From the World Bank to an Alternative Philosophy of Development Assistance. University of Michigan Press, 2005. Foreword by Albert O. Hirschman. Detailed Table of Contents. Indian (South Asian) version published by Tulika Press.
- Intellectual Trespassing as a Way of Life: Essays in Philosophy, Economics, and Mathematics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Inc. 1995. Table of Contents.
- Property and Contract in Economics: The Case for Economic Democracy. (the full text). Cambridge MA: Basil Blackwell Inc. 1992. (out of print)
- The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm. (the full text) 1990, London: Unwin Hyman Limited (HarperCollins Academic. (out of print) Revised and published in Chinese as The Democratic Corporation 1997, Xinhua Publishing House, Beijing.
- Economics, Accounting, and Property Theory. Lexington MA: Lexington Books, 1982. (out of print) Precis.
Recent selected articles
- Toward a Corporate Democracy Movement. Perspectives on Work: Magazine of the Industrial Relations Research Association. Vol. 5, No. 2 (2001), 14-17.
- Introduction to Property Theory: The Fundamental Theorems. Policy Research Working Paper 2692. Washington: World Bank. An updated version.
- Helping People Help Themselves: Toward a Theory of Autonomy-Compatible Help. Policy Research Working Paper 2693. Washington: World Bank.
- Not Poles Apart: "Whither Reform?" and "Whence Reform?" Journal of Policy Reform. Vol. 4, No. 4. 325-38. With Joseph Stiglitz.
- Lessons of East Europe's Voucher Privatization, Challenge. July–August, pp. 14–37.
- Should development agencies have Official Views? Development in Practice. 12(3&4, August 2002): 285-97.
- Helping People Help Themselves: Autonomy-Compatible Assistance. In Making Development Work. N. Hanna and R. Picciotto (eds.). New Brunswick NJ: Transaction: 105-33.
- Transforming the Old into a Foundation for the New: Lessons of the Moldova ARIA Project. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2866. Washington DC: World Bank. With Vladimir Kreacic.
- Autonomy-Respecting Assistance. In Capacity for Development: New Solutions to Old Problems. S. Fukuda-Parr, C. Lopes and K. Malik. New York: Earthscan for UNDP: 43-60.
- Enterprise ownership, types of. Entry in: The International Encyclopedia of Business and Management, 2nd edition, 8-volume set. Edited by: Malcolm Warner, London: Thomson Learning, 1731-37.
- Autonomy-Respecting Assistance: Toward New Strategies for Development Assistance. In The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD): Internal and External Visions. Edited by Rachel Hayman, Kenneth King and Simon McGrath. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Centre of African Studies.
- Should development agencies have Official Views? In Development and the Learning Organization. Ed. by L. Roper, J. Pettit and D. Eade. Oxford: Oxfam GB: 40-57. (reprinted from: Development in Practice, August 2002).
- Policy Research on Migration and Development. World Bank Policy Research Working Papers(No. 3117): 1-64.
- New Bridges Across the Chasm: Macro- and Institutional-Strategies for Transitional Economies. In New Thinking in Macroeconomics: Social, Institutional, and Environmental Perspectives. Ed. by J. Harris and N. Goodwin. Northampton MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 30–50. With Joseph Stiglitz.
- On the Russian Privatization Debates: What has been Learned a Decade Later? Challenge. May–June, 6-28.
- Migration, Transition, and Aid: Three Development Themes Relevant for South-East Europe. The Southeast European Journal of Economics and Development. 1(1): 11-53.
- Parallel Experimentation and the Problem of Variation. Knowledge, Technology & Policy. 16(4 Winter): 77-90.
- Autonomy in Education and Development. Journal of International Cooperation in Education. 7(1): 3-14.
- Autonomy-Respecting Assistance: Toward An Alternative Theory of Development Assistance. Review of Social Economy. LXII(2 June): 149-68.
- Corporate Governance, Capital Theory, and Corporate Finance Theory: An Approach from Property Theory. Corporate Ownership & Control. 1(4 Summer): 13-29.
- Revisiting Hirschman On Development Assistance and Unbalanced Growth. Eastern Economics Journal. Vol. 30, No. 2(Spring 2004), 311-31.
- Jane Jacobs on Development. Oxford Development Studies. Vol. 32 (4 Dec. 2004), 507-21.
- Can the World Bank Be Fixed? Post-autistic economics review (33 Sept. 14): 2-16.
- How Do We Grow?: Jane Jacobs on Diversification and Specialization. Challenge. 48 (5 May–June): 50-83.
- The Two Institutional Logics: Exit-Oriented Versus Commitment-Oriented Institutional Designs. International Economic Journal. 19(2 June): 147-68.
- Labour migration: a developmental path or a low-level trap? Development in Practice 15 (5 August): 617-30.
- Translatio versus Concessio: Retrieving the Debate about Contracts of Alienation with an Application to Today’s Employment Contract. Politics & Society 33: 449-80.
- The Market Mechanism of Appropriation. Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines. 14(4)
- A Theory of Adjoint Functors—with some Thoughts on their Philosophical Significance. In What is Category Theory? Giandomenico Sica ed., Milan: Polimetrica. 127-83.
- Whither Self-Management? Finding New Paths to Workplace Democracy. In Participation in the age of globalization and information. Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Labor-Managed Firms. Vol. 9. P. Kalmi and M. Klinedinst ed., Amsterdam: Elsevier: 321-55.
- Adjoints and Emergence: applications of a new theory of adjoint functors. Axiomathes. 17:1 (March), 19-39.
- On the Role of Capital in “Capitalist” and in Labor-Managed Firms. Review of Radical Political Economics. Volume 39, No. 1 (Winter), 5-26.
- Helping self-help: The fundamental conundrum of development assistance. Journal of Socio-Economics. 36 (4): 561-77.
- MicroFinance: Some Conceptual and Methodological Problems. In What is Wrong with Microfinance? Thomas Dichter and Malcolm Harper ed., London: Practical Action Publishers.
- Goodwill: A Present Property Right or Only An Anticipated Future Right? FSR Forum (Financial Studies Association Rotterdam). August 2008, 23-25.
- Numeraire Illusion: The Final Demise of the Kaldor-Hicks Principle. In Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics Mark D. White ed., New York: Cambridge University Press, 96-118.
- Counting Distinctions: On the Conceptual Foundations of Shannon's Information Theory. Synthese. 168:1 (May), 119-149.
- Double-Entry Accounting: The Mathematical Formulation and Generalization. FSR Forum (Financial Studies Association Rotterdam). Feb. 2009, 17-22.
- Rethinking Philanthropy and Business. Conversations on Philanthropy. Vol. VI, 79-96.
- The Workplace: A Forgotten Topic in Democratic Theory? Kettering Review. Summer 2009, 51-57.
- Pragmatism versus Economics Ideology in the Post-Socialist Transition: China versus Russia. realworld economics review. 52 (March 2010), 2-27.
- The Logic of Partitions: Introduction to the Dual of the Logic of Subsets. Review of Symbolic Logic. 3:2 (June 2010), 287-350.
- Marxism as a Capitalist Tool. Journal of Socio-Economics. 39:6 (Dec. 2010), 696-700.
- Inalienable Rights: A Litmus Test for Liberal Theories of Justice. Law and Philosophy. 29:5 (Sept. 2010), 571-599.
- Workplace Democracy and Human Development: The Example of the Postsocialist Transition. Journal of Speculative Philosophy. 24:4, 333-353.