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The Ethology of Homo Economicus

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  • Joseph Persky

Abstract

Early critics of John Stuart Mill attacked him for creating a monomaniacal economic man concerned only with the accumulation of money. In fact, Mill's construct possessed a considerably richer psychology including desires for leisure, luxury, and sexual relations. This psychology played a central role in Mill's analysis of alternative institutional regimes. Mill also considered the social origins, or 'ethology,' of preference structures. Mill's framework provides a useful reference point for ongoing work in comparative economics and feminist economics. In particular, Mill's emphasis on psychological parsimony needs careful reconsideration by advocates of enriching the motives of economic man.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.9.2.221
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 9 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 221-231

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:2:p:221-31

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.2.221
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Cited by:
  1. Jim Wishloff, 2009. "The Land of Realism and the Shipwreck of Idea-ism: Thomas Aquinas and Milton Friedman on the Social Responsibilities of Business," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 137-155, March.
  2. Michel Zouboulakis, 2010. "Trustworthiness as a Moral Determinant of Economic Activity: Lessons from the Classics," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(3), pages 209-221, January.
  3. Klaus Mohn, 2010. "Autism in Economics? A Second Opinion," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 191-208, July.
  4. Roth, Timothy P., 1997. "Competence-difficulty gaps, ethics and the new social welfare theory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 533-552.
  5. Michel Zouboulakis, 2001. "From Mill to Weber: the meaning of the concept of economic rationality," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 30-41.
  6. Ingebrigtsen, Stig & Jakobsen, Ove, 2009. "Moral development of the economic actor," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2777-2784, September.
  7. Markus Wartiovaara, 2011. "Rationality, REMM, and Individual Value Creation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 98(4), pages 641-648, February.
  8. Pavel Chalupníček, 2014. "From an Individual to a Person: What Economics Can Learn from Theology About Human Beings," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(2), pages 120-126, May.
  9. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," GDAE Working Papers 12-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
  10. Cristina GALALAE & Alexandru VOICU, 2013. "Consumer Behaviour Research: Jacquard Weaving in the Social Sciences," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 1(2), pages 277-292, August.
  11. Julie A. Nelson, . "05-04 "Rationality and Humanity: A View from Feminist Economics"," GDAE Working Papers 05-04, GDAE, Tufts University.
  12. Julie Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," INET Research Notes 17, Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).
  13. François Etner, 2004. "La fin du XIXe siècle, vue par les historiens de la pensée économique," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 0(5), pages 663-680.
  14. Volpato, Giuseppe & Stocchetti, Andrea, 2009. "Old and new approaches to marketing. The quest of their epistemological roots," MPRA Paper 30841, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Sommerville, Matthew & Jones, Julia P.G. & Rahajaharison, Michael & Milner-Gulland, E.J., 2010. "The role of fairness and benefit distribution in community-based Payment for Environmental Services interventions: A case study from Menabe, Madagascar," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1262-1271, April.

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