Methodological Individualism and the Homo Economicus.

Posted: February 19, 2014 in All kinds of blog posts, often with a very low level content.

As a history and philosophy student, I’ve sometimes mocked the homo economicus of the economists. Yet, I always assumed I was attacking a cliche that doesn’t really exist. Joke for joke’s sake.

I just finished reading Economie Toegelicht of Marc De Clercq. It’s a ca 700 pages introduction to economics book, used at the University of Ghent. Surprisingly enough, again and again the same ridiculous sociological axioms were stated! A study of the economy with the individual as foundation in which the latter is an egoistic satisfaction-driven rationalist.

What’s the point of setting up a sociological frame as a foundation for economic theories, when the frame itself isn’t accepted by any sociologist?

This homo economicus analyses the world in terms of numbers based on his personal needs and ways of satisfaction. Economists use this monstrosity as a standard and searches for explanations when people don’t seem to follow this standard. All of this is supposedly “descriptive”. What a joke. The definition of the normal is a political-ethical one that might be defended, but it should at least be recognized as a norm instead of a description.

Maybe I shouldn’t draw to harsh conclusions based on this one textbook. Yet, this is the starting point for every economy student and the only book many other students will ever get about economy at the university.


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