The Varieties of Economic Rationality
From Adam Smith to Contemporary Behavioural and Evolutionary Economics
Routledge – 2013 – 176 pages
The concept of economic rationality is important for the historical evolution of Economics as a scientific discipline. The common idea about this concept -even between economists- is that it has a unique meaning which is universally accepted. This new volume argues that "economic rationality" is not not a universal concept with one single meaning, and that it in fact has different, if not conflicting, interpretations in the evolution of discourse on economics. In order to achieve this, the book traces the historical evolution of the concept of economic rationality from Adam Smith to the present, taking in thinkers from Mill to Friedman, and encompassing approaches from neoclassical to behavioural economics.
The book charts this history in order to reveal important instances of conceptual transformation of the meaning of economic rationality. In doing so, it presents a uniquely detailed study of the historical change of the many faces of the homo oeconomicus .
@text Chapter 1: Adam Smith and the idea of morally constrained rationality Chapter 2: John Stuart Mill and the concept of socially embedded rationality Chapter 3: William Stanley Jevons and the concept of rationality as maximization Chapter 4: Vilfredo Pareto and the concept of instrumental rationality Chapter 5: Lionel Robbins and consistency of choices under scarcity Chapter 6: Neoclassical rationality under fire: theoretical, methodological and empirical critique in the late ‘30’s Chapter 7: Three conventionalist responses. Machlup, Samuelson and Friedman Chapter 8: Popper’s retreat and the ‘principle of rationality’ Chapter 9: Probabilistic choice and strategic rationality Chapter 10: Herbert Simon and the concept of bounded rationality Chapter 11: Rationality in behavioral economics Chapter 12: The rationality of embedded individuals Conclusion: What is rational after all?
Michel S. Zouboulakis is Professor of History & Methodology of Economics at the University of Thessaly, Greece.