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Psychologizing Economic Man: Foundational Problems of Economics and Cognitive Science
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
all rights reserved
This is a philosophical study of economics and cognitive psychology as sciences of human behaviour. Boundaries and interactions of the two sciences are examined with a close look at the experimental studies on judgement and decision making, and on strategic interaction in games. I argue, against conceptual scepticism, that not only is a science of human behaviour possible, but it is exemplified by both economics and psychology, which have been striving to measure decision-relevant psychological quantities and explain the behavioural anomalies that have emerged as a result of theoretical and empirical progress in measurement and experimentation. The dialectics of ‘crises and responses’ involved in this process reveals various ways in which representations, models and experiments are employed in the laboratory. I emphasize the precision of measurement and the severity of test as important methodological values in scientific progress, and argue that these values are the basis of theoretical progress. I explore alternative ways in which economic models of rational choice can be informed by psychology, and argue that a successful model should incorporate empirical findings from social and cognitive psychology, instead of maintaining familiar economic modelling strategies while relying on folk psychological intuitions. I propose that, in addition to modelling human behaviour as utility maximization, explicitly modelling human reasoning qua cognitive process may be the key to success. I point out two metaphysical stances—mechanistic and functional—implicit in the debates over the prospect of neuroeconomics, and consider their methodological implications to the study of human cognition and behaviour. I argue that it is unlikely that neuroscience will radically eliminate constructs of economic theory such as beliefs and preferences, based on the observation that recent brain-imaging studies of individual decision making largely presuppose constructs of cogntive psychology.
Matsushita International Foundation (Japan), Centre for International Mobility (Finland), Archimedes(Estonia)
PhD in Sociology