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Anthropological Reflections Upon Social Institutions as a Source of the "Wealth of Nations"

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  • Dalbin Jean-Philippe

    (Université Aix-Marseille III)

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    Abstract

    Buchanan and Rawls have reminded us that economic science has neglected the institutional settings of exchange. Buchanan is in keeping with the epistemological fiction of Hobbes, that of envisaging social institutions as the intended result of the interaction of rational rationalities. Rawls uses the Lockean tradition to apprehend the fundamental structure of society as the intended result of agreement between reasonable rationalities. These two visions establish the juxtaposition of human motivations.By contrast, we suggest to combine rationalities. For, if social institutions, and notably justice, encourage – or discourage – the wealth of nations as Smith taught us, they must then be circumscribed with regard to what man is in his more general traits. This combination of abstract rationalities requires then that a synthetic rationality be put forward, that allows the exploration of the complexity of human choice, both in its instrumental and axiological dimension. Aristotle had already discovered this rationality through his studies of prudential rationality, which this paper complements with the notion of customary rationality.Buchanan et Rawls ont rappelé que l’échange possède sa raison institutionnelle que la science économique ne reconnaît plus. Le premier s’inscrit dans la tradition de la fiction épistémologique hobbesienne pour envisager les institutions sociales comme le résultat volontaire de l’interaction de raisons rationnelles. Le second reprend la méthode lockéenne pour appréhender la structure de base de la société comme le résultat volontaire de l’accord de raisons raisonnables. Ces deux démarches consacrent la juxtaposition des rationalités.Par contraste, nous suggérons de les combiner car si les institutions sociales, au coeur desquelles se trouve la justice, favorisent, ou non, la richesse des nations, comme Smith l’enseignait déjà, elles doivent par conséquent être circonscrites en fonction de ce qu’est l’homme dans sa plus grande généralité possible. Cette combinaison de rationalités abstraites suppose donc la mise en perspective d’une rationalité synthétique, permettant de considérer la complexité du choix humain, simultanément instrumental et axiologique. Cette rationalité, Aristote l’avait déjà découverte à travers son étude de la raison prudentielle dont nous proposons ici un complément en y associant la rationalité coutumière.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 1-31

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:4:n:4

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