Published Books :
2010 : Rationality and Explanation in Economics
Most economists would agree that the notion of rationality is fundamental for their science. But what do they mean by "rationality"? Roughly, most of them would answer that it refers to the idea that economic agents maximise their utility or, still more typically since the 1950s or so, that they are strictly consistent in their choices. But such idealised conceptions of rationality imply highly unrealistic assumptions that economists usually justify with the help of arguments whose shortcomings are discussed and illustrated in this book. Unsurprisingly, such assumptions have contributed to the fact that neoclassical economics has more and more distanced itself from its original function, namely to explain the workings of human economic societies.
This book proposes solutions to these problems. In fact, rationality plays a crucial role in economics because it is the key of most economic explanations. Therefore analyses of rationality in this book are oriented towards revealing in which conditions the rationality assumption makes valuable explanations possible and what kinds of explanation are then involved. The last part of the book discusses and exemplifies alternative kinds of explanation in economics and applies to economics the most illuminating theories of scientific explanation developed in natural sciences. In all these discussions, the point is not so much to denounce neoclassical analyses than to argue for a significant reinterpretation of their implicit philosophical foundations.
Table of contents:
Rationality in the history of
- Chapter 1: Rationality in economics before World War II,
- Chapter 2: The hardly consistent story of rationality consistency
Part II: Objections to the notion of minimal rationality
- Chapter 3: Can methodological individualism survive?
- Chapter 4: Is still some room left for irrationality?
- Chapter 5: Minimal and maximal rationality: loosely defined concepts?
Part III: Is rationality really necessary in economics?
- Chapter 6: Why unrealism of assumptions remains a predicament.
- Chapter 7: Explaining in the absence of rationality.
Part IV: Regarding economic explanations
- Chapter 8: Rationality and natural selection in economics.
- Chapter 9: Theories of explanation applied to economics.
2001: Actualité de la philosophie de l'histoire
2007: La philosophie
de l'histoire. Hommages offerts à