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 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 2012.
Related categories
Subcategories:
See also:History/traditions: Philosophy of Economics

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  1. The Capitalist Revolution. [REVIEW]C. P. A. - 1957 - Review of Metaphysics 11 (2):342-342.
  2. Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. [REVIEW]M. A. - 1969 - Review of Metaphysics 22 (3):569-570.
  3. Fairness, Public Good, and Emotional Aspects of Punishment Behavior.Klaus Abbink, Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Shmuel Zamir - 2004 - Theory and Decision 57 (1):25-57.
    We report an experiment on two treatments of an ultimatum minigame. In one treatment, responders’ reactions are hidden to proposers. We observe high rejection rates reflecting responders’ intrinsic resistance to unfairness. In the second treatment, proposers are informed, allowing for dynamic effects over eight rounds of play. The higher rejection rates can be attributed to responders’ provision of a public good: Punishment creates a group reputation for being “tough” and effectively “educate” proposers. Since rejection rates with informed proposers drop to (...)
  4. Quality and Competition: An Essay in Economic Theory.Lawrence Abbott - 1956 - Science and Society 20 (3):281-283.
  5. Editorial Statement.Mohammed Abdellaoui - 2005 - Theory and Decision 58 (1):1-2.
  6. Equity and Efficiency in Multi-Worker Firms: Insights From Experimental Economics.Johannes Abeler, Steffen Altmann, Sebastian J. Goerg, Sebastian Kube & Matthias Wibral - 2011 - Analyse & Kritik 33 (1):325-347.
    In this article, we discuss recent evidence from experimental economics on the impact of social preferences on workplace behavior. We focus on situations in which a single employer interacts with multiple employees. Traditionally, equity and efficiency have been seen as opposing aims in such work environments: individual pay-for-performance wage schemes maximize efficiency but might lead to inequitable outcomes. We present findings from laboratory experiments that show under which circumstances partially incomplete contracts can create equitable work environments while at the same (...)
  7. The Impact of Economic Restructuring on Female Employment. Labor Policy and Interactions Between Government and Economy.D. M. Acevedo, A. Y. Amoateng, I. Kalule-Sabiti, P. Ditlopo, S. Rajaram, T. S. Sunil, L. K. Zottarelli, N. Krieger, V. V. Shakhtarin & A. F. Tsyb - 2003 - Journal of Biosocial Science 35 (7):19-23.
  8. Economics Vs. Moral Philosophy: Comment.Thomas Achatz & Franz Haslinger - 1980 - Theory and Decision 12 (3):279-288.
  9. Global Problems and the Development of Planning and Prognostic.S. Adam - 1980 - Filosoficky Casopis 28 (6):882-904.
  10. Economics, Ideology and American Politics.W. Adams - 1961 - Diogenes 9 (36):52-75.
    The ideal, my friend, is the lifebuoy. Let's say one is taking a swim, floundering around, trying as hard as possible not to sink. One might try to swim in a safe direction despite contrary currents; the essential thing is to use a classic stroke according to recognized swimming principles...Some eccentrics who try to swim faster in order to get there, come what may, splash all over everybody and always end by drowning, involving I don't know how many other poor (...)
  11. Equilibrium Versus Understanding: Towards the Rehumanizing of Economics Within Social Theory.Mark Addleson - 1995 - Routledge.
    _Equilibrium versus Understanding_ argues that neo-classical theory is incapable of explaining or understanding human conduct. The author asserts that a different sort of economic theory is required and proposes a hermeneutic one. The book presents a comprehensive description and analysis of the methodologies involved, ultimately rejecting the positivist in favour of an interpretative approach to social theory.
  12. Extended Preferences and Interpersonal Comparisons: A New Account.Matthew D. Adler - 2014 - Economics and Philosophy 30 (2):123-162.
  13. 1.2 Learning From the Past: How to Bring Ethics and Economics in Line with the Real Nature of the Human Being.Philipp Aerni - forthcoming - Common Knowledge: The Challenge of Transdisciplinarity.
  14. Popper's Insights Into the State of Economics.Joseph Agassi - 2009 - In Zuzana Parusniková & R. S. Cohen (eds.), Rethinking Popper. Springer. pp. 357--368.
  15. Whose Impartiality? An Experimental Study of Veiled Stakeholders, Involved Spectators and Detached Observers: Fernando Aguiar Et Al.Fernando Aguiar, Alice Becker & Luis Miller - 2013 - Economics and Philosophy 29 (2):155-174.
    We present an experiment designed to investigate three different mechanisms to achieve impartiality in distributive justice. We consider a first-person procedure, inspired by the Rawlsian veil of ignorance, and two third-party procedures, an involved spectator and a detached observer. First-person veiled stakeholders and involved spectators are affected by an initially unfair distribution that, in the stakeholders’ case, is to be redressed. We find substantial differences in the redressing task. Detached observers propose significantly fairer redistributions than veiled stakeholders or involved spectators. (...)
  16. El Tomismo En la Filosofía Contemporánea de la Economía.Maria Sophia Aguirre - 1999 - Review of Metaphysics 52 (3):670-671.
  17. De Gustibus Disputare: Hyperbolic Delay Discounting Integrates Five Approaches to Impulsive Choice.Ainslie George - 2017 - Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (2):166-189.
    Impulsiveness is the tendency to shift preference from a better, later option to a poorer, earlier option as the two get closer. Explanations have extrapolated from five piecemeal elements of psychology – failure of cognitive rationality, Pavlovian conditioning, force of habit, incentive salience, and long chains of secondary reward – but in doing so have created models that stretch the properties of these elements as observed in the laboratory. The models are hard to integrate with each other, much less with (...)
  18. Philosophy of the Practical, Economic and Ethic.Douglas Ainslie - 1915 - Philosophical Review 24 (3):321-325.
  19. Explorations in Pragmatic Economics.George Akerlof - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
  20. Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being.George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton - 2011 - Princeton University Press.
    Identity Economics provides an important and compelling new way to understand human behavior, revealing how our identities--and not just economic incentives--influence our decisions. In 1995, economist Rachel Kranton wrote future Nobel Prize-winner George Akerlof a letter insisting that his most recent paper was wrong. Identity, she argued, was the missing element that would help to explain why people--facing the same economic circumstances--would make different choices. This was the beginning of a fourteen-year collaboration--and of Identity Economics. The authors explain how our (...)
  21. Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being.George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
    Identity Economics provides an important and compelling new way to understand human behavior, revealing how our identities--and not just economic incentives--influence our decisions. In 1995, economist Rachel Kranton wrote future Nobel Prize-winner George Akerlof a letter insisting that his most recent paper was wrong. Identity, she argued, was the missing element that would help to explain why people--facing the same economic circumstances--would make different choices. This was the beginning of a fourteen-year collaboration--and of Identity Economics. The authors explain how our (...)
  22. Rejoinder: The “Ambiguity Aversion Literature: A Critical Assessment”: Nabil I. Al-Najjar and Jonathan Weinstein.Nabil I. Al-Najjar - 2009 - Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):357-369.
    The pioneering contributions of Bewley, Gilboa and Schmeidler highlighted important weaknesses in the foundations of economics and game theory. The Bayesian methodology on which these fields are based does not answer such basic questions as what makes beliefs reasonable, or how agents should form beliefs and expectations. Providing the initial impetus for debating these issues is a contribution that will have the lasting value it deserves.
  23. The Ambiguity Aversion Literature: A Critical Assessment: Nabil I. Al-Najjar and Jonathan Weinstein.Nabil I. Al-Najjar - 2009 - Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):249-284.
    We provide a critical assessment of the ambiguity aversion literature, which we characterize in terms of the view that Ellsberg choices are rational responses to ambiguity, to be explained by relaxing Savage's Sure-Thing principle and adding an ambiguity-aversion postulate. First, admitting Ellsberg choices as rational leads to behaviour, such as sensitivity to irrelevant sunk cost, or aversion to information, which most economists would consider absurd or irrational. Second, we argue that the mathematical objects referred to as “beliefs” in the ambiguity (...)
  24. In Defense of Participatory Economics.Michael Albert, Robin Hahnel, David M. Kotz & John O'Neill - 2002 - Science and Society 66 (1):7 - 28.
  25. Positive Public Economics: Reinterpreting ‘Optimal’ Policies.Brian C. Albrecht - 2017 - Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (1):90-103.
    The standard positive/normative divide fails to capture the way economists use ‘optimal’ taxation models. This paper argues that the better way to understand public economics is through a three-part division between positive, normative, and instrumental models. An instrumental model is about means and ends. Once this additional dimension is acknowledged, one can see that ‘optimal’ taxation models are closely connected to what are generally seen as purely positive models. I argue that economists have been using similar standards to assess ‘optimal’ (...)
  26. Reflections on Coase, Cost, and Efficiency.Louis De Alessi - 1998 - Journal de Economistes Et des Etudes Humaines 8 (1):5-26.
  27. No Title Available: Reviews.Anna Alexandrova - 2009 - Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):371-378.
  28. Review of The Invisible Hand in Economics: How Economists Explain Unintended Social Consequences. [REVIEW]Anna Alexandrova - 2009 - Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):371-378.
  29. No Title Available: Reviews.Ernie Alleva - 1990 - Economics and Philosophy 6 (2):322-326.
  30. Aspects of Mental Economy.Arthur Allin - 1901 - Psychological Review 8 (3):330-331.
  31. Arguing About Law an Introduction to Legal Philosophy.Andrew Altman - 1996
  32. The Long-Term Viability of Team Reasoning.S. M. Amadae & Daniel Lempert - 2015 - Journal of Economic Methodology 22 (4):462-478.
    Team reasoning gives a simple, coherent, and rational explanation for human cooperative behavior. This paper investigates the robustness of team reasoning as an explanation for cooperative behavior, by assessing its long-run viability. We consider an evolutionary game theoretic model in which the population consists of team reasoners and ‘conventional’ individual reasoners. We find that changes in the ludic environment can affect evolutionary outcomes, and that in many circumstances, team reasoning may thrive, even under conditions that, at first glance, may seem (...)
  33. Division and Difference in the "Discipline" of Economics.Jack Amariglio, Stephen Resnick & Richard Wolff - 1990 - Critical Inquiry 17 (1):108-137.
    The existence and unity of a discipline called economics reside in the eye and mind of the beholder. The perception of economics's unity and disciplinarity itself arises in some, but not all, of the different schools of thought that we would loosely categorize as economic. Indeed, as we hope to show, the presumption of unity and disciplinarity—the idea that there is a center or “core” of propositions, procedures, and conclusions or a shared historical “object” of theory and practice—is suggested in (...)
  34. "Truth, Hope, and Power: The Thought of Karl Popper", by Douglas E. Williams. [REVIEW]Robert D' Amico - 1992 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 22 (2):251.
  35. Economic Systems in Search of Nations.Jahangir Amuzegar - forthcoming - Social Research.
  36. No Title Available: Reviews.Paul Anand - 2011 - Economics and Philosophy 27 (2):175-179.
  37. Review of Capabilities and Happiness. [REVIEW]Paul Anand - 2011 - Economics and Philosophy 27 (2):175-179.
  38. Book Review. [REVIEW]Paul Anand - 2005 - Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):139-142.
  39. Simple Characterizations of the Nash and Kalai/Smorodinsky Solutions.Nejat Anbarci - 1998 - Theory and Decision 45 (3):255-261.
    In this study we introduce two new properties, the Midpoint Outcome on a Linear Frontier (MOLF) and Balanced Focal Point (BFP) properties, to replace the Weak Pareto Optimality (WPO), Symmetry (SYM) and Independence of Equivalent Utility Representations (IEUR) properties in the axiomatic characterizations of the two most prominent solution concepts, namely the Nash and Kalai/Smorodinsky solutions, respectively.
  40. Spring 1997.Elizabeth Anderson - manuscript
    My scholarly work on the problem of race relations began with a general inquiry into the theory of economic inequality. Specifically, my 1981 paper, "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," which appeared in the journal Econometrica, introduced a model of economic achievement in which a person's earnings depended on a random endowment of innate ability and on skills acquired from formal training. The key feature of this theory was that individuals had to rely on their families to pay for (...)
  41. Ethical Assumptions in Economic Theory: Some Lessons From the History of Credit and Bankruptcy.Elizabeth Anderson - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (4):347-360.
    This paper evaluates the economic assumptions of economic theory via an examination of the capitalist transformation of creditor–debtor relations in the 18th century. This transformation enabled masses of people to obtain credit without moral opprobrium or social subordination. Classical 18th century economics had the ethical concepts to appreciate these facts. Ironically, contemporary economic theory cannot. I trace this fault to its abstract representations of freedom, efficiency, and markets. The virtues of capitalism lie in the concrete social relations and social meanings (...)
  42. Margaret Jane Radin, Contested Commodities:Contested Commodities.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (4):914-917.
  43. Inequality Reexamined, Amartya Sen. [REVIEW]Elizabeth Anderson - 1995 - Economics and Philosophy 11 (1):182-189.
  44. No Title Available: Reviews.Elizabeth Anderson - 1995 - Economics and Philosophy 11 (1):182-189.
  45. Review of Amartyn Sen's "Inequality Reexamined". [REVIEW]Elizabeth Anderson - 1995 - Economics and Philosophy 11:182.
  46. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Thaler Richard H. And Sunstein Cass R.. Yale University Press, 2008. X + 293 Pages. [Paperback Edition, Penguin, 2009, 320 Pages.]. [REVIEW]Joel Anderson - 2010 - Economics and Philosophy 26 (3):369-376.
  47. Review of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. [REVIEW]Joel Anderson - 2010 - Economics and Philosophy 26 (3):369-376.
  48. A Study in Social Economics: The Hunter River Valley. [REVIEW]John Anderson - 1927 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 5:233.
  49. Mises Versus Weber on Bureaucracy and Sociological Method.William P. Anderson - 2004 - Journal of Libertarian Studies 18:1-30.
  50. The Dslr Filmmaker's Handbook: Real-World Production Techniques.Barry Andersson & Janie L. Geyen - 2011 - Sybex.
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