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Rationality and Beyond: A Critique of the Nature and Task of Economics

  • Li, Cheng
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This paper shows that the means-end rationality principle, as an ‘ultimate given’ of economics, delimits the faculty of economists to observe, describe and understand the manifold human behavior. Given such epistemological limitations, as a descriptive science, the main task of economics is to incorporate appropriate empirical content into the a priori analytical framework with the aim of better explaining and predicting some aspect of human behavior. As a normative science, economists should draw on their persuasion and communication skills whereby changing the means and end of the decision makers to the extent that the real world decision-making can be improved.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 56651.

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Date of creation: 18 Jun 2014
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:56651
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  1. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  2. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Boland, Lawrence A, 1981. "On the Futility of Criticizing the Neoclassical Maximization Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 1031-36, December.
  5. Roger E. Backhouse & Steve G. Medema, 2009. "Defining Economics: The Long Road to Acceptance of the Robbins Definition," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(s1), pages 805-820, October.
  6. Smith, Adam, 1759. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1759.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:817-868 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. von Hayek, Friedrich August, 1989. "The Pretence of Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(6), pages 3-7, December.
  9. Armen A. Alchian, 1950. "Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 211.
  10. Vriend, Nicolaas J., 1996. "Rational behavior and economic theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 263-285, March.
  11. Geoffrey M Hodgson, 2012. "On the Limits of Rational Choice Theory," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 1(1), pages 6, July.
  12. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
  13. Heiner, Ronald A, 1983. "The Origin of Predictable Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 560-95, September.
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