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Against Simplicity And Cognitive Individualism

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  • Wilcox, Nathaniel T.

Abstract

Neuroeconomics illustrates our deepening descent into the details of individual cognition. This descent is guided by the implicit assumption that “individual human” is the important “agent” of neoclassical economics. I argue here that this assumption is neither obviously correct, nor of primary importance to human economies. In particular I suggest that the main genius of the human species lies with its ability to distribute cognition across individuals, and to incrementally accumulate physical and social cognitive artifacts that largely obviate the innate biological limitations of individuals. If this is largely why our economies grow, then we should be much more interested in distributed cognition in human groups, and correspondingly less interested in individual cognition. We should also be much more interested in the cultural accumulation of cognitive artefacts: computational devices and media, social structures and economic institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilcox, Nathaniel T., 2008. "Against Simplicity And Cognitive Individualism," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 523-532, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:24:y:2008:i:03:p:523-532_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Jack Vromen, 2011. "Neuroeconomics: two camps gradually converging: what can economics gain from it?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(3), pages 267-285, September.
    2. Davis, John B., 2010. "Neuroeconomics: Constructing identity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 574-583, December.

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