What Does Economics Assume About People?s Knowledge? Who knows?
The purpose of the paper is to explore, from an assessment viewpoint, the ideas below. Economics, as a social science, has always considered sets of individuals with assumed characteristics, namely the level of knowledge, although in an implicit way in most of the cases. In this sense, an influential approach in Economics assumed that society, as a global set of individuals, was characterised by a certain level of knowledge that, indeed, could be associated with the one of its representative agent. In fact, an attentive recall of the evolution of these matters in Economics will immediately recognise that, since the very first economic models of the government, it was assumed that the level of knowledge of society, represented by a set of voters, was not the same as the one of the agent being elected, i.e. the government. The irrelevance of the difference in the level of knowledge of economic agents was soon abandoned after some seminal works of Hayek and Friedman. More recently, the viewpoint of Economics has changed by focusing on the characteristics (e.g. knowledge) of individuals, who may interact in sub-sets of society. From this point of view is clearly relevant, given the close connection with the assumed level of knowledge, to distinguish the adaptive behaviour from the rational one, as well as the full rational from the bounded rationality behaviour by people. Quite recent developments in the Economics of Knowledge, i.e. the so-called learning models, have been considered as more realistic approaches to model the process by which individuals acquire knowledge, for instance from other individuals that are, themselves, acquiring knowledge.
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