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Upon learning that John C. Harsanyi (1920–2000) was awarded the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, in 1994, for his pioneering work in game theory, few economists probably questioned the appropriateness of that choice. The Budapest-born social scientist had already been recognized as a first-rank contributor to non-cooperative game theory for some time (see, e.g., Gul 1997). However, as many readers of this journal will be aware, Harsanyi first contributed to welfare economics, not game theory. More importantly, he was philosophically minded and accordingly has been “acknowledged as the most influential philosopher in economics” (Güth 1994: 252).1 This is of some significance since, before Harsanyi became acquainted with economics around 1950, his main interest was philosophy and, to a lesser extent, sociology and psychology. Rather than an economist with philosophical leanings, Harsanyi was actually a philosopher turned economist.

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K. J. Arrow 2001. John C. Harsanyi 1920–2000. Economic Journal 111: F747–52.

F. Gul 1997. A Nobel Prize for game theorists: the contributions of Harsanyi, Nash and Selten. Journal of Economic Perspectives 11: 159–74.

J. C. Harsanyi 1953b. Cardinal utility in welfare economics and in the theory of risk-taking. Journal of Political Economy 61: 434–5.

J. C. Harsanyi 1953–54. Welfare economics of variable tastes. Review of Economic Studies 21: 204–13.

J. C. Harsanyi 1955. Cardinal welfare, individualistic ethics, and interpersonal comparisons of utility. Journal of Political Economy 63: 309–21.

J. Nash 1950. The bargaining problem. Econometrica 18: 155–62.

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Economics & Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0266-2671
  • EISSN: 1474-0028
  • URL: /core/journals/economics-and-philosophy
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