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Economists as subjects: Toward a psychology of economists

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  • Wilfred Dolfsma

Abstract

Economists can reflect on their own field of research and themselves in a number of ways. The philosophy of science has long been the dominant way to reflect on the work of scientists, to be joined in more recent times by both the sociology of science and the rhetoric of science. In this paper I do not argue that these approaches are wrong, but I do argue that they should be complemented with a study of the individual scientist. A psychology of economists, in other words, is called for. One important theory in recent psychological literature (social learning/cognitive theory) is introduced as an instance to indicate what kind of suggestions concerning the reflective position of individual scientists might be derived. It would be preferable from this perspective that scientists set high standards for themselves, have an open mind to what happens in different disciplines, and set high standards by which to judge others. Then follows a discussion where some potential objections to the approach in general, or to the specific psychological theory in particular, are refuted.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Forum for Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 77-88

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Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:30:y:2001:i:2:p:77-88

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Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/12143

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  1. Hausman, Daniel M, 1989. "Economic Methodology in a Nutshell," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 115-27, Spring.
  2. Esther-Mirjam Sent, 1999. "Economics of science: survey and suggestions," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 95-124.
  3. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  4. Nelson, Julie A., 1992. "Gender, Metaphor, and the Definition of Economics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 103-125, April.
  5. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2001. "Metaphors of Knowledge in Economics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(1), pages 71-91.
  6. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
  7. Joseph J. Cordes & Arjo Klamer & Thomas C. Leonard, 1993. "Academic Rhetoric in the Policy Arena: The Case of Capital Gains Taxation," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 459-479, Fall.
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