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Philosophical Perspectives on Economics and Social Sciences

ECON 3620

This course provides an advanced survey of conceptual and methodological issues that lie at the intersection of philosophy, economics, and the social sciences. More specifically, the main goal is to engage in a critical discussion of how sciences such as psychology, sociology, and neuroscience can challenge and modify the foundations and methodology of economic theories. The course is structured around three broad modules. After a brief introduction, we begin by discussing the emergence of rational choice theory which constitutes the foundation of classical and neoclassical economics and present some paradoxical implications of expected utility theory. The second module focuses on the relationship between economics and psychology. More specifically, we examine the emergence of behavioral economics, the study of the social, cognitive, and emotional factors on the economic decisions of individuals and institutions and their consequences for market prices, returns, and resource allocation. Finally, the third module focuses on the implications of neuroscience on decision making. We discuss some recent developments in neuroeconomics, a field of study emerged over the last few decades which seeks to ground economic theory in the study of neural mechanisms which are expressed mathematically and make behavioral predictions.