IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


  • Dalbin Jean-Philippe

    (Université Aix-Marseille III)


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 léchange possède sa raison institutionnelle que la science économique ne reconnaît plus. Le premier sinscrit dans la tradition de la fiction épistémologique hobbesienne pour envisager les institutions sociales comme le résultat volontaire de linteraction de raisons rationnelles. Le second reprend la méthode lockéenne pour appréhender la structure de base de la société comme le résultat volontaire de laccord 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 lenseignait déjà, elles doivent par conséquent être circonscrites en fonction de ce quest lhomme dans sa plus grande généralité possible. Cette combinaison de rationalités abstraites suppose donc la mise en perspective dune rationalité synthétique, permettant de considérer la complexité du choix humain, simultanément instrumental et axiologique. Cette rationalité, Aristote lavait déjà découverte à travers son étude de la raison prudentielle dont nous proposons ici un complément en y associant la rationalité coutumière.

Suggested Citation

  • Dalbin Jean-Philippe, 2001. "Anthropological Reflections Upon Social Institutions as a Source of the "Wealth of Nations"," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 11(4), pages 1-31, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:4:n:4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. K. Hristov & Nikolay Nenovsky, 2001. "The Nonorthodox Currency Boards: The Case of Bulgaria," Post-Print halshs-00260074, HAL.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:4:n:4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.