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The context problematic, behavioral economics and the transactional view: an introduction to 'John Dewey and economic theory'


  • Elias Khalil


Are there empirical anomalies upon which Dewey's theory of action sheds better light than existing neoclassical and heterodox approaches? This introduction answers in the affirmative. They are the set of anomalies highlighted by behavioral economics. These anomalies stress the centrality of context. Neoclassical theorists react to the 'context problematic' by claiming that context, after all, is part of either the constraint set or the preference set. Dewey and his collaborator, Bentley, called such standard rationality theories 'interactional.' On the other hand, heterodox economists and mainstream sociologists and anthropologists appropriate the 'context problematic' to buttress their normative views on how constraints such as culture, norms, and budgets mold preferences after their image. Dewey and Bentley called such normative theories 'self-actional.' Both neoclassical theorists and their critics fail to see that context cannot be reduced to the constraint set, preference set, or set of norms. In contrast, Dewey and Bentley offer a fresh way to solve the 'context problematic,' what they call the 'transactional view.'

Suggested Citation

  • Elias Khalil, 2001. "The context problematic, behavioral economics and the transactional view: an introduction to 'John Dewey and economic theory'," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 107-130.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:10:y:2001:i:2:p:107-130
    DOI: 10.1080/1350178032000071020

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    Cited by:

    1. Earl, Peter E., 2012. "Experiential analysis of automotive consumption," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(7), pages 1067-1072.
    2. Elias Khalil, 2006. "Moral Outrage," Monash Economics Working Papers 07/06, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    3. Petracca, Enrico, 2015. "A tale of paradigm clash: Simon, situated cognition and the interpretation of bounded rationality," MPRA Paper 64517, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Michel Renault & Yvan Renou, 2007. "Processus d'individuation, éthique et pragmatisme. A la recherche de fondements théoriques pour appréhender la firme partenariale," Post-Print halshs-00202148, HAL.


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