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Early Evolution of the Assumption of Non-satiation

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  • Lorenzo Garbo

Abstract

The paper explores the mostly tacit transmission of the assumption of non-satiation from the outset of classical political economy to the advent of marginal analysis in Great Britain. The evolution of the assumption is traced back to contributions to the philosophy of mind in the early British enlightenment, which provided scientific ground not only to the economic agent's insatiable nature but also to a delusional dynamic of association that challenges the causality between acquisitiveness and pleasure. The paper claims that, because there is evidence that such delusional aspect was known to the early political economists, the assumption of non-satiation might have become a mainstay in economics not only for its scientific status but also as a result of a strategic choice that can only be explained within the political, cultural, and social context in which it was made. Had this been the case, the exportability of the assumption through time and space must be further questioned. The consistent inclusion of non-satiation in economic theories, policies, and institutions may have had extraordinary consequences, and may have nurtured rational behaviors that in fact fulfill the assumption itself.

Suggested Citation

  • Lorenzo Garbo, 2012. "Early Evolution of the Assumption of Non-satiation," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 15-32, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:24:y:2012:i:1:p:15-32
    DOI: 10.1080/09538259.2011.617595
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