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Mentalism Versus Behaviourism In Economics: A Philosophy-Of-Science Perspective

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  • Dietrich, Franz
  • List, Christian

Abstract

Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people’s behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states.
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  • Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Mentalism Versus Behaviourism In Economics: A Philosophy-Of-Science Perspective," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 249-281, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:32:y:2016:i:02:p:249-281_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    2. Shintaro Tamate, 2015. "External Norms and Systematically Observed Norms," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 247-259, June.
    3. Miles Kimball, 2015. "Cognitive Economics," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 167-181, June.
    4. Francesco GUALA, 2017. "Preferences: Neither Behavioural nor Mental," Departmental Working Papers 2017-05, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    5. repec:spr:infosf:v:17:y:2015:i:4:d:10.1007_s10796-014-9520-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    7. repec:eee:jetheo:v:176:y:2018:i:c:p:1-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Dietrich, Franz, 2018. "Savage's theorem under changing awareness," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 1-54.
    9. Lauren Larrouy & Guilhem Lecouteux, 2018. "Choosing in a Large World: The Role of Focal Points as a Mindshaping Device," Working Papers halshs-01923244, HAL.
    10. repec:hal:journl:halshs-01249514 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2013. "Reason-Based Rationalization," MPRA Paper 51776, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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