The beliefs of economists are not solely determined by empirical evidence in direct relation to the theories and models they hold. Economists hold 'ontological presuppositions', fundamental ideas about the nature of being which direct their thinking about economic behaviour. In this volume, leading philosophers and economists examine these hidden presuppositions, searching for a 'world view' of economics. What properties are attributed to human individuals in economic theories, and which are excluded? Does economic man exist? Do markets have an essence? Do macroeconomic aggregates exist? Is the economy a mechanism, the functioning of which is governed by a limited set of distinct causes? What are the methodological implications of different ontological starting points? This collection, which establishes economic ontology as a coordinated field of study, will be of great value to economists and philosophers of social sciences.
• Brings economists and philosophers together • The first contemporary collection devoted to the focused study of the ontology or metaphysics of economics • Asks penetrating questions about the fundamental beliefs of economists
Part I. The What, Why, and How of Economic Ontology: 1. Economic ontology: What? Why? How? Uskali Mäki; 2. The empirical presuppositions of metaphysical explanations Harold Kincaid; 3. Quality and quantity in economics: the metaphysical construction of the economic realm; Part II. Rationality and Homo Economicus: 4. The normatic core of rational choice Russel Hardin; 5. The virtual reality of homo economicus Philip Pettit; 6. Expressive rationality: is self worth just another kind of preference? Shaun Hargreaves; 7. Agent identity in economics John Davis; 8. Chances and choices: notes on probability and beliefs in economic theory Jochen Runde; Part III. Micro, Macro, and Markets: 9. Essences and markets John O'Neill; 10. The metaphysics of microeconomics Alex Rosenberg; 11. Ontological commitments of evolutionary economics Jack Vronen; 12. Is macroeconomics for real? Kevin D. Hoover; 13. The possibility of economic objectivity Don Ross and Fred Bennet; Part IV. The World of Economic Causes: 14. Ceteris paribus laws and socio-economic machines Nancy Cartwright; 15. Tendencies, laws, and the composition of economic causes; 16. Economics without mechanism John Dupre; Part V. Methodological Implications of Economic Ontology: 17. Sargent's symmetry saga: ontological versus technical constraints; 18. Two models of idealization in economics Alan Nelson; 19. The way the world works (www): towards an ontology of theory choice Uskali Mäki.