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 any philosophical issue that arises in connection with the discipline of economics. Currently it has three core areas: foundations, methodology and ethics. Foundations of economics encompass conceptual and metaphysical questions such as the 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, following on the traditional questions in philosophy of science, 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 kickstarting much of contemporary philosophy of economics. Hausman 2008 is a comprehensive encyclopedia article. Hausman 2007 is an anthology of classic essays from to J.S Mill and Marx to the present day. Hausman et al 2006 is a seminal study of normative assumptions in economics and their critical study. Hausman 1992 started and still informs many discussions in methodology of economics. Reiss 2009 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: for example, Rosenberg 1995, Risjord 2014, and Elster 2007.
Related categories
Subcategories:
See also:History/traditions: Philosophy of Economics

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  1. The Model (Also) in the World: Extending the Sociological Theory of Fields to Economic Models.Nicolas Brisset & Dorian Jullien - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):130-145.
    ABSTRACTThe goal of this paper is to provide a methodological perspective on economic models that accounts for some sociological dimensions of economics, in two senses. Firstly, we are interested i...
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  2. Rethinking What Every Economics Student Needs to Know.Merve Burnazoglu & Francis Ostermeijer - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):179-184.
    Volume 27, Issue 2, June 2020, Page 179-184.
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  3. Self-Control, Decision Theory, and Rationality – New Essays.James D. Grayot - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):184-189.
    Volume 27, Issue 2, June 2020, Page 184-189.
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  4. Built-in Normativity in Tailoring Identity: The Case of the EU Skills Profile Tool for Integrating Refugees.Merve Burnazoglu - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):117-129.
    ABSTRACTIn current European policy debates, identifying refugee skills is considered to be a significant precondition for matching refugees and jobs and thus for labor market integration. Refugees...
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  5. When Efficient Market Hypothesis Meets Hayek on Information: Beyond a Methodological Reading.Nathanaël Colin-Jaeger & Thomas Delcey - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):97-116.
    Hayek and the Efficient Market Hypothesis are often seen as proposing a similar theory of prices. Hayek is seen as proposing to understand prices as information conveyer, incorporating inform...
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  6. Games of Strategy in Culture and Economics Research.Maxwell Mkondiwa - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):146-163.
    Games are meant to be fun, yet economists have successfully developed games that are less fun and less understood by participants especially in developing countries. This paper surveys failures in...
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  7. Response to Henschen: Causal Pluralism in Macroeconomics.Mariusz Maziarz & Robert Mróz - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):164-178.
    In his recent paper in the Journal of Economic Methodology, Tobias Henschen puts forth a manipulationist definition of macroeconomic causality that strives for adequacy. As the notion of ‘adequacy’...
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  8. Capitalism: A conversation in critical theory.James A. Chamberlain - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (2):153-156.
  9. Optimal Climate Policy and the Future of World Economic Development.Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Marc Fleurbaey, Noah Scovronick, Asher Siebert, Dean Spears & Fabian Wagner - 2019 - The World Bank Economic Review 33.
    How much should the present generations sacrifice to reduce emissions today, in order to reduce the future harms of climate change? Within climate economics, debate on this question has been focused on so-called “ethical parameters” of social time preference and inequality aversion. We show that optimal climate policy similarly importantly depends on the future of the developing world. In particular, although global poverty is falling and the economic lives of the poor are improving worldwide, leading models of climate economics may (...)
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  10. The Impact of Human Health Co-Benefits on Evaluations of Global Climate Policy.Noah Scovronick, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Marc Fleurbaey, Wei Peng, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears & Fabian Wagner - 2019 - Nature Communications 2095 (19).
    The health co-benefits of CO2 mitigation can provide a strong incentive for climate policy through reductions in air pollutant emissions that occur when targeting shared sources. However, reducing air pollutant emissions may also have an important co-harm, as the aerosols they form produce net cooling overall. Nevertheless, aerosol impacts have not been fully incorporated into cost-benefit modeling that estimates how much the world should optimally mitigate. Here we find that when both co-benefits and co-harms are taken fully into account, optimal (...)
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  11. BLOG: Which Option is Best for Me? A Values-Based Proposal for Behavioral Economists.C. Tyler DesRoches - 2020 - Justice Everywhere: A Blog About Philosophy in Public Affairs.
  12. In Us We Trust? [REVIEW]Gary Chartier - 2014 - The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty 2014.
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  13. Review of Anthony de Jasay, Political Philosophy, Clearly. [REVIEW]Gary Chartier - 2010 - Independent Review 15:603-606.
  14. Civil Rights and Economic Democracy.Gary Chartier - 2001 - Washburn Law Journal 40:267-87.
    Suggests that there is an integral relationship between support for civil rights and support for a cluster of practices that might be characterized under the heading off "economic democracy." These include participatory workplace governance schemes and basic income schemes as alternatives to conventional income support programs.
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  15. Pirate Constitutions and Workplace Democracy.Gary Chartier - 2010 - Jahrbuch für Recht Und Ethik/Annual Review of Law and Ethics 18:449-67.
    Considers Peter Leeson's arguments regarding the economic viability of workplace democracy.
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  16. Technology, Society, and Performativity: On a New Book by Nicolas Brisset.Ivan Boldyrev - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-5.
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  17. Economic Statecraft: Human Rights, Sanctions, and Conditionality, Cécile Fabre. Harvard University Press, 2018, 214 Pages. [REVIEW]Lisa Hecht - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-6.
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  18. Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. Adam Tooze. New York, Viking, 2018.Emmanuel Guerisoli - 2020 - Constellations 27 (1):158-160.
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  19. Property and Capital in the Person: Lockean and Neoliberal Self‐Ownership.Niklas Angebauer - 2020 - Constellations 27 (1):50-62.
  20. F. A. Hayek and the Epistemology of Politics: The Curious Task of Economics.Scott Scheall - 2020 - London: Routledge.
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  21. Response to ‘Response to Henschen: Causal Pluralism in Macroeconomics’.Tobias Henschen - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-3.
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  22. A Rejoinder to Henschen: The Issue of VAR and DSGE Models.Mariusz Maziarz & Robert Mróz - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-3.
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  23. Against Neuroscience Imperialism.Roberto Fumagalli - 2017 - In Uskali Mäki, Adrian Walsh & Manuela Fernández Pinto (eds.), Scientific Imperialism: Exploring the Boundaries of Interdisciplinarity. pp. 205-223.
    In recent years, several authors advocated neuroscience imperialism, an instance of scientific imperialism whereby neuroscience methods and findings are systematically applied to model and explain phenomena investigated by other disciplines. Calls for neuroscience imperialism target a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, economics, and philosophy. To date, however, neuroscience imperialism has not received detailed attention by philosophers, and the debate concerning its identification and normative assessment is relatively underdeveloped. In this paper, I aim to remedy this situation by making some (...)
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  24. Emergence Versus Neoclassical Reductions in Economics.George Chorafakis - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-23.
    Many epistemic anomalies of the neoclassical research programme originate from its ontologically reductionist meta-axioms, which predicate how economic macro-systems are constituted from their micr...
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  25. Holding Back From Theory: Limits and Methodological Alternatives of Randomized Field Experiments in Development Economics.Judith Favereau & Michiru Nagatsu - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-21.
    In this paper, we critically and constructively examine the methodology of evidence-based development economics, which deploys randomized field experiments as its main tool. We describe the...
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  26. Abstract Principles, Causal Cakes and Asymmetry of Results in Policy Making. A Reply to Menno Rol.Leonardo Ivarola - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):93-96.
    This brief note aims to reply to a comment made by Menno Rol abou...
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  27. Collectively Accepted Social Norms and Performativity: The Pursuit of Normativity of Globalization in Economic Institutions.Noriaki Okamoto - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-14.
    Although the philosophical literature on social institutions has been insightful for social scientific studies, the application of its core concepts, such as collective intentionality, to real inst...
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  28. Epistemic and Non-Epistemic Values in Economic Evaluations of Public Health.Alessandra Cenci & M. Azhar Hussain - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):66-88.
    We review methods for economic evaluation recently developed in health economics by focusing on the epistemic and non-epistemic values they embody. The emphasis is on insights into valuing health,...
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  29. Beyond ‘Having Reason to Value’: Why We Should Adopt a Procedure-Independent and Value-Neutral Definition of Capabilities.Morten Fibieger Byskov - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):18-35.
    ABSTRACTSen has famously defined the notion of capabilities as the doings and beings that we ‘have reason to value,’ which is still widely regarded within the capability literature as the correct o...
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  30. The Normative Decision Theory in Economics: A Philosophy of Science Perspective. The Case of the Expected Utility Theory.Magdalena Małecka - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):36-50.
    This article analyses how normative decision theory is understood by economists. The paradigmatic example of normative decision theory, discussed in the article, is the expected utility theory. It...
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  31. Restoring Constitution: Saving Performativity From Mäki’s Critique.Mickey Peled - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):51-65.
    ABSTRACTThis paper aims to solve a fundamental critique of the research project of the performativity of economics. The critique by philosopher Uskali Mäki strikes the concept of performativity in...
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  32. Ladders of Abstraction, Support Factors, and Semantics in the Design of Policies.Menno Rol - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):89-92.
    Volume 27, Issue 1, March 2020, Page 89-92.
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  33. Experimenting with the Coase Theorem.Ramzi Mabsout & Hossein Radmard - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):1-17.
    Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler's [. Experimental tests of the endowment effect and the Coase theorem. Journal of Political Economy, 98, 1325–1348] experiment on the Coase theorem disrupted a s...
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  34. Artificial Economics.Paul Smart - 2020 - In Timothy Shanahan & Paul R. Smart (eds.), Blade Runner 2049: A Philosophical Exploration. Abingdon, UK: pp. 185–205.
  35. Value Commitment, Resolute Choice, and the Normative Foundations of Behavioral Welfare Economics.C. Tyler DesRoches - forthcoming - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
    Given the endowment effect, the role of attention in decision-making, and the framing effect, most behavioral economists agree that it would be a mistake to accept the satisfaction of revealed preferences as the normative criterion of choice. Some have suggested that what makes agents better off is not the satisfaction of revealed preferences, but ‘true’ preferences, which may not always be observed through choice. While such preferences may appear to be an improvement over revealed preferences, some philosophers of economics have (...)
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  36. When Econs Are Human.John R. Welch - forthcoming - Journal of Economic Methodology:1-14.
    Econs are presumed to be unboundedly rational, while Humans are boundedly rational. Nevertheless, in certain conditions, Econs aiming to optimize would choose like Humans trying to satisfice. The conditions are imposed by Knightian uncertainty. Although expected utilities are incalculable in these conditions, an Econ could still optimize by relying on a comparative version of decision theory that takes inputs of comparative plausibility and desirability and produces outputs of plausibilistic expectation. The paper shows that comparative decision theory is a special case (...)
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  37. Comment on Miguel Ramirez's Paper, 'Credit, Indebtedness and Speculation in Marx's Political Economy'.Stavros Mavroudeas - 2019 - Economic Thought 8:63.
    Read Miguell Ramirez's original paper Credit, Indebtedness and Speculation in Marx's Political Economy...
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  38. Orthogonal Time in Euclidean Three-Dimensional Space: Being an Engineer's Attempt to Reveal the Copernican Criticality of Alfred Marshall's Historically-Ignored 'Cardboard Model'.Richard Everett Planck - 2019 - Economic Thought 8:31.
    This paper begins by asking a simple question: can a farmer own and fully utilise precisely five tractors and precisely six tractors at the same time? Of course not. He can own five or he can own six but he cannot own five and six at the same. The answer to this simple question eventually led this author to Alfred Marshall's historically-ignored, linguistically-depicted 'cardboard model' where my goal was to construct a picture based on his written words. More precisely, in (...)
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  39. Credit, Indebtedness and Speculation in Marx's Political Economy.Miguel D. Ramirez - 2019 - Economic Thought 8:46.
    This paper contends that Marx develops in Volume III of Capital an incisive conceptual framework in which excessive credit creation, indebtedness and speculation play a critical and growing role in the reproduction of social capital on an extended basis; however, given the decentralised and anarchic nature of capitalist production, the credit system does so in a highly erratic and contradictory manner which only postpones the inevitable day of reckoning. The paper also highlights Marx's relatively neglected but highly important analysis of (...)
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  40. Response to Stavros Mavroudeas.Miguel D. Ramirez - 2019 - Economic Thought 8:70.
    Read Miguell Ramirez's original paper Credit, Indebtedness and Speculation in Marx's Political Economy Read Stavros Mavroudeas' comment on Miguel Ramirez' paper Comment on Miguel Ramirez's paper, 'Credit, Indebtedness and Speculation in Marx's Political Economy'...
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  41. Institutions, Policy and the Labour Market: The Contribution of the Old Institutional Economics.Ioannis A. Katselidis - 2019 - Economic Thought 8:13.
    This paper seeks to examine the relationship and the interaction between institutions, policy and the labour market in the light of the ideas of the first generation of institutional economists, who, in contrast to neoclassicals, conceived of the economy as a nexus of institutions, underlining, therefore, the significant role of institutional and non-market factors in the functioning of an economic system. They also criticised those who define welfare only in terms of efficiency and satisfaction of consumer interests; institutionalists instead focus (...)
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  42. Blockchain as a Medium for Transindividual Collective.Juho Rantala - 2019 - Culture, Theory, and Critique 60 (3–4):1–14.
    Today, digitalisation is penetrating every corner of our mundane life, thus affecting our being in manifold ways. In spite of this, digital technologies provide us with paths towards advancing humanity. One way to model the possibilities of the new technologies in a sustainable way is to frame them in light of Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy and especially his understanding of ‘transindividuality’, which is the foundation for a robust, evolving collective. The transindividual relation, mediated by technical objects, is the possibility of a (...)
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  43. The Power-Ownership as a Remedy From the Owner’s Power / ВЛАСТЬ-СОБСТВЕННОСТЬ КАК СРЕДСТВО ОТ ВЛАСТИ СОБСТВЕННИКОВ.Pavel Simashenkov - 2018 - Concept 9:236-244.
    The article analyzes the phenomenon of ownership in its legal, economic, political and philosophical perspectives. Ownership is considered as an opportunity and as a guarantee of sustainable development. Comparative context is used to identify the specificity of the bourgeois model of owners’ power (social state) and the domestic concept of power-ownership (including socialist state). The author draws conclusions about ways to overcome the competition between the state and the market for the human resource and proposes to explore the ideological provision (...)
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  44. Economics for the Common Good, Jean Tirole. Princeton University Press, 2017, Xi + 563 Pages. [REVIEW]Julian Le Grand - 2019 - Economics and Philosophy 35 (1):179-186.
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  45. Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics.Lukas Beck & Anna Alexandrova - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):380-384.
    Volume 26, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 380-384.
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  46. A Critique of the History of Economic Ideas.Marcel Boumans - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):385-388.
    Volume 26, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 385-388.
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  47. Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics.Itzhak Gilboa - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):389-392.
    Volume 26, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 389-392.
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  48. Maurice Allais on the Quantity Theory of Money: The Ontological Restatement.Ramzi Klabi - 2018 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):361-379.
    ABSTRACTThis paper is about a little known part of Allais’ oeuvre, namely his restatement of the quantity theory of money. It shows that this restatement contains an original refinement of the notion of stability of the relative demand for money. To explain this refinement, this essay investigates Allais’ concept of psychological time – a concept strongly emphasised but not duly examined by most of his commentators. It shows how Allais’ restatement of the quantity theory amounts – in the final analysis (...)
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  49. The Fragility of Results and Bias in Empirical Research: An Exploratory Exposition.Imad A. Moosa - 2018 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):347-360.
    ABSTRACTThe results of empirical work in economics and finance are typically sensitive, inter alia, to model specification, sample period, variable definitions and estimation methods. If the underl...
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  50. Measuring Utility Without ‘Externalist Fallacies’: A Response to Alexandrova and Beck, Boumans, and Gilboa.Ivan Moscati - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 26 (4):393-400.
    ABSTRACTThis is a response to the critical points made by Alexandrova, Beck, Boumans, and Gilboa in their reviews of my book Measuring Utility. A common thread in the reviewers’ comments is that my...
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