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Philosophy of Economics

Edited by Anna Alexandrova (Cambridge University)
Assistant editor: Jack Wright (Cambridge University)
About this topic
Summary Philosophy of economics is a study of abstract issues that arise in connection to the discipline of economics. It has three core areas: foundations, methodology and ethics. Foundations of economics encompasses conceptual and metaphysical study such as nature of rationality and social ontology, seeking to clarify what we study when we study economics (preferences, individuals, institutions, societies etc?) and their properties and relations to each other. Methodology of economics is concerned with the nature of knowledge that can be attained about the economy and its sources.  The ethical side of philosophy of economics is a study of normative issues such as justice, efficiency, equality, welfare, paternalism, coercion and such, that arise at the intersection of political philosophy and welfare economics.
Key works Daniel Hausman is responsible for much contemporary philosophy of economics. Hausman 2008 is a comprehensive encyclopedia article. Hausman 2008 is an anthology of classic essays all the way back to J.S Mill and Marx. Hausman 2006 is a seminal study of normative assumptions in economics and their critical study. Hausman 1992 kickstarted and still informs many discussions in methodology of economics, for example Reiss 2009 which presents an updated agenda. Mäki 2001 is a collection on the ontology of economics.
Introductions There is now a textbook in philosophy of economics Reiss 2013. Other good introductions to philosophy of economics are just introductions to philosophy of social science. I favor Rosenberg 1995, Little 1991, and Elster 2007.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Philosophy of Economics
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  1. Hans Albert (1985). On Using Leibniz in Economics. Comment on Peter Koslowski. In Peter Koslowski (ed.), Economics and Philosophy. J.C.B. Mohr. 7--68.
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  2. John R. Atherton, Elaine L. Graham & Ian Steedman (eds.) (2010). The Practices of Happiness: Political Economy, Religion and Wellbeing. Routledge.
    These essays explore the religious dimensions to a number of key features of well-being, including marriage, crime and rehabilitation, work, inequality, mental ...
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  3. Pierluigi Barrotta (2009). The Pursuit of Unhappiness. The Elusive Psychology of Well-Being , Daniel M. Haybron. Oxford University Press, 2008, XV + 357 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):378-384.
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  4. Yota Batsaki (2009). A Heap of Worthless Fragments : The Nineteenth-Century Literary Revaluation of the Classical Statue. In Jack Amariglio, Joseph W. Childers & Stephen Cullenberg (eds.), Sublime Economy: On the Intersection of Art and Economics. Routledge.
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  5. Eddie K. Baumann (1998). A Comparison of Economic Problem Solving in Experts and Naïve Thinkers. Journal of Social Studies Research 56 (2).
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  6. John Bickle (2008). Anna Alexandrova is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Missouri St. Louis. Her Research Focuses on the Use of Formal Models for Explanation and Policy Making in Economics and Also on the Measurement of Happiness and Well-Being. Her Recent Papers Are Appearing in Philosophy of Science, Philosophical Psychology, and the Journal. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 24:545-547.
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  7. K. Binmore (2002). Using Game Theory in Social Science A Review of Kaushik Basu's Prelude to Political Economy. Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (3):379-383.
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  8. Ken Binmore (2009). Review Symposium. Journal of Economic Methodology 16 (2):207-219.
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  9. Ken Binmore (2005). What Price the Moral High Ground? Ethical Dilemmas in Competitive Environments, by Robert H. Frank. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004, XII + 203 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 21 (2):309-311.
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  10. Ken Binmore (1991). Morality Within the Limits of Reason., Russell Hardin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, Xx + 219 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 7 (01):112-119.
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  11. J. Birner (1995). Interpretation and its Consequences: A Review of Don Lavoie's (Editor) Expectations and the Meaning of Institutions-Essays by Ludwig Lachmann and Economics and Hermeneutics. [REVIEW] Journal of Economic Methodology 2:304-311.
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  12. J. Birner (1994). Review of E. Roy Weintraub's Stabilizing Dynamics: Constructing Economic Knowledge. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 10:349-349.
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  13. Jack Birner (1994). Stabilizing Dynamics; Constructing Economic Knowledge, E. Roy Weintraub. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, X + 177 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 10 (02):349-.
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  14. Jack Birner, Peter Boettke, Karen Vaughn & Ulrich Witt (1998). INEM Sessions at the New York ASSA Meetings 3-5 January 1999. Journal of Economic Methodology 5 (2):332.
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  15. John Douglas Bishop (2012). The Elephant in the Room: On the Absence of Corporations in Bernard Hodgson's Economics as a Moral Science. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 108 (1):27-35.
    In his book Economics as a Moral Science , Bernard Hodgson argues that economics is not value neutral as is often claimed, but is a value-laden discipline. In the long argument for this in his book, Hodgson never discusses or even mentions corporations. This article explains that corporations are absent from Hodgson’s discussion because he considers only the consumption side of general equilibrium theory (GET), and it shows that if Hodgson had included corporations and the production side, his overall argument (...)
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  16. Charles Blackorby, Walter Bossert & David Donaldson (1997). Critical-Level Utilitarianism and the Population-Ethics Dilemma. Economics and Philosophy 13 (2):197-.
  17. Mark Blaug (1987). Methodology with a Smallm. Critical Review 1 (2):1-5.
    THE RHETORIC OF ECONOMICS by Donald N. McCloskey Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985; 229 pp., $21.50.
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  18. Stephan Boehm & Karl Farmer (1993). Why the Acrimony? Reply to Davidson. Critical Review 7 (2-3):407-421.
    Our response to Davidson is two?pronged. First, we dispute the basis for his dismissal of Austrian economics as presented by O'Driscoll and Rizzo. In particular, we reject his claim, dictated entirely by his Post Keynesian perspective, concerning an ?identical axiomatic foundation? of Austrian and neoclassical economics. Second, we seek to show that Davidson's criticism of neoclassicism (and by implication of Austrianism) is based on a superficial, incorrect, and outmoded reading of neoclassical economics.
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  19. Peter J. Boettke & J. Robert Subrick (2002). From the Philosophy of Mind to the Philosophy of the Market. Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (1):53-64.
    John Searle has argued against the viability of strong versions of artificial intelligence. His most well-known counter-example is the Chinese Room thought experiment where he stressed that syntax is not semantics. We reason by analogy to highlight previously unnoticed similarities between Searle and F.A. Hayek's critique of socialist planning. We extend their insights to explain the failure of many reforms in Eastern Europe in the 1990's.
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  20. Greg Bognar (2008). Age-Weighting. Economics and Philosophy 24 (2):167-189.
    Some empirical findings seem to show that people value health benefits differently depending on the age of the beneficiary. Health economists and philosophers have offered justifications for these preferences on grounds of both efficiency and equity. In this paper, I examine the most prominent examples of both sorts of justification: the defence of age-weighting in the WHO's global burden of disease studies and the fair innings argument. I argue that neither sort of justification has been worked out in satisfactory form: (...)
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  21. Niels Bohr (1999). Symposium on the Coase Theorem Legal Fiction: The Place of the Coase Theorem in Law And. Economics and Philosophy 15:209-233.
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  22. L. A. Boland (1989). Book Reviews : Philosophy of Economics: A Critique of Demarcation. By Raphael Sassower. Lanham: University Press of America, 1985. Pp. Xx + 217. $11.75 (Paper. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 19 (2):231-232.
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  23. L. A. Boland (1985). Book Reviews : Philosophy in Economics. Edited by JOSEPH C. PITT. Dordrecht, Boston and London: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1981, Pp. 203 + Index. $14.95 (Paper. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 15 (1):108-109.
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  24. L. A. Boland (1976). Book Reviews : An Economic Querist. By G. L. S. SHACKLE. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973. Pp. 135. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 6 (1):93-94.
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  25. Lawrence Boland (forthcoming). Kuhn Vs. Popper by Way of Lakatos and the Cold War. Journal of Economic Methodology.
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  26. Lawrence Boland (2010). Joel Anderson is a Research Lecturer in the Philosophy Department of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He Specializes in Moral Psychology and Social Theory, Especially Issues of Autonomy, Agency, Mutual Recognition and Normativity. He Co-Edited (with John Christman) Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism (Cambridge University Press. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 26:407-409.
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  27. Lawrence Boland (2010). The Methodology of Positive Economics: Reflections on the Milton Friedman Legacy, Uskali Mäki, Editor. Cambridge University Press, 2009. Xvii + 363 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 26 (03):376-382.
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  28. Lawrence A. Boland (2003). Dealing with Popper in Economic Methodology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (4):479-498.
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  29. Lawrence A. Boland (1983). On the Best Strategy for Doing Philosophy of Economics. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 34 (4):387-392.
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  30. Friedel Bolle & Jessica Kaehler (2006). Coleman's Hypothesis on Trusting Behaviour and a Remark on Meta‐Studies. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (4):469-483.
    Coleman (1990) describes ?calculative trust?. He states that, in order to trust, the value of trust has to be larger than the value of mistrust. So if subjects have (not personally but on average) rational expectations about the trustworthiness of their transaction partners, we should expect the frequency of trust to increase with the average net profitability of trust. In a meta?study of trust experiments, Coleman's Hypothesis could not be confirmed while, in our own experiment with a wider parameter range, (...)
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  31. G. Bonanno (1994). On Bonanno Logic of Rational Play-Reply. Economics and Philosophy 10 (1):115-117.
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  32. G. Bonanno, C. List, B. Tungodden & P. Vallentyne (2008). Special Issue on “Neuroeconomics”. Economics and Philosophy 24.
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  33. Giacomo Bonanno (1995). Review of Cristina Bicchieri's Rationality and Coordination. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 11 (2):359-366.
    In her book Rationality and coordination (Cambridge University Press, 1994) Cristina Bicchieri brings together (and adds to) her own contributions to game theory and the philosophy of economics published in various journals in the period 1987-1992. The book, however, is not a collection of separate articles but rather a homogeneous unit organized around some central themes in the foundations of non-cooperative game theory. Bicchieri’s exposition is admirably clear and well organized. Somebody with a good knowledge of game theory would probably (...)
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  34. Giacomo Bonanno (1995). Rationality and Coordination, Bicchieri Cristina. Cambridge University Press, 1994, Xiii + 270 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 11 (02):359-.
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  35. Giacomo Bonanno (1994). Reply to Vilks. Economics and Philosophy 10 (01):115-.
    In his note Arnis Vilks (1994) raises two criticisms concerning my paper "The Logic of Rational Play in Extensive Games" (Bonanno, 1991). The author gives two examples: one to show that my logic "is inconsistent..
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  36. Giacomo Bonanno, Martin van Hees, Christian List & Bertil Tungodden (2009). Introduction to the Special Issue of Economics and Philosophy on Ambiguity Aversion. Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):247-248.
    The paradigm for modelling decision-making under uncertainty has undoubtedly been the theory of Expected Utility, which was first developed by von Neumann and Morgenstern (1944) and later extended by Savage (1954) to the case of subjective uncertainty. The inadequacy of the theory of Subjective Expected Utility (SEU) as a descriptive theory was soon pointed out in experiments, most famously by Allais (1953) and Ellsberg (1961). The observed departures from SEU noticed by Allais and Ellsberg became known as “paradoxes”. The Ellsberg (...)
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  37. James Bonar (1967/1966). Philosophy and Political Economy in Some of Their Historical Relations. New York, Humanities P..
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  38. Luigi Bonatti (1984). Uncertainty: Studies in Philosophy, Economics, and Socio-Political Theory. B.R. Grüner.
    lNTRODUCTlON ln itself the world is neither governed by a principle of order, irremediably abandoned to disorder, structured with iron determinism, ...
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  39. David Boonin (1988). Competition and Capitalism. Critical Review 2 (2-3):183-188.
    NO CONTEST: THE CASE AGAINST COMPETITION by Alfie Kohn Boston: Houghton Miffin, 1986. 257 pp., $16.95.
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  40. William James Booth (1993). Households: On the Moral Architecture of the Economy. Cornell University Press.
    INTRODUCTION A story has been passed down to us from some two millennia ago of a conversation between a wealthy Athenian estate owner, ...
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  41. Wj Booth (1991). Economies of Time-Rejoinder. Political Theory 19 (4):656-661.
    A Critical Response to William James Booth's article in Economics of Time.
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  42. Walter Bossert & Luigino Bruni (2009). Gaia Bellone is a Graduate Student in the PhD Program in the Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University. She Received Her Bachelor's Degree in Economics From Luigi Bocconi University, Italy, and Her Master's Degree in Statistics From Carnegie Mellon University. Economics and Philosophy 25:243-246.
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  43. Walter Bossert, Chloe X. Qi & John A. Weymark (2013). Measuring Group Fitness in a Biological Hierarchy: An Axiomatic Social Choice Approach. Economics and Philosophy 29 (3):301-323.
    This article illustrates how axiomatic social choice theory can be used in the evaluation of measures of group fitness for a biological hierarchy, thereby contributing to the dialogue between the philosophy of biology and social choice theory. It provides an axiomatic characterization of the ordering underlying the MichodSolariNedelcu index of group fitness for a multicellular organism. The MVSHN index has been used to analyse the germ-soma specialization and the fitness decoupling between the cell and organism levels that takes place during (...)
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  44. Kenneth E. Boulding (1989). The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment, Mark Sagoff. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, X + 271 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 5 (01):97-.
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  45. Bryan L. Boulier & Robert S. Goldfarb (1991). Pisces Economicus: The Fish as Economic Man. Economics and Philosophy 7 (01):83-86.
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  46. M. Boumans (2002). Pragmatic View on Empirical Modeling A Review of Clive WJ Granger's Empirical Modeling in Economics, Specification and Evaluation. Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (1):103-106.
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  47. Pierre Bourdieu (2000). Pascalian Meditations. Stanford University Press.
    Synthesizing forty years' work by France's leading sociologist, this book exemplifies Bourdieu's unique ability to link sociological theory, historical information, and philosophical thought. It makes explicit the presuppositions of a state of 'scholasticism', a certain leisure liberated from the urgencies of the world. Philosophers have brought these presuppositions into the order of discourse, more to legitimate than analyze them, and this is the primary systematic, epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic error that Bourdieu subjects to methodological critique. Pascalian because he, too, was (...)
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  48. Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde (2010). Is Neuroeconomics Doomed by the Reverse Inference Fallacy? Mind and Society 9 (2):229-249.
    Neuroeconomic studies are liable to fall into the reverse inference fallacy, a form of affirmation of the consequent. More generally neuroeconomics relies on two problematic steps, namely the inference from brain activities to the engagement of cognitive processes in experimental tasks, and the presupposition that such inferred cognitive processes are relevant to economic theorizing. The first step only constitutes the reverse inference fallacy proper and ways to correct it include a better sense of the neural response selectivity of the targeted (...)
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  49. S. Bowles & H. Gintis (1993). A Political and Economic Case for Economic Democracy. Economics and Philosophy 9 (1):75-100.
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  50. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis (1993). A Political and Economic Case for the Democratic Enterprise. Economics and Philosophy 9 (01):75-.
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