Back to Conventionalist Sources of the Epistemology of Economist Engineer Jacques Rueff

Abstract This paper focuses on Jacques Rueff’s connection with French conventionalists. His first academic piece, Des sciences physiques aux sciences morales (1922) is an epistemological book based on the unification of moral and physical sciences using a shared scientific methodology drawn from conventionalist principles. Indeed, Rueff extends and complements them by going beyond the exclusive scope of … Continue reading Back to Conventionalist Sources of the Epistemology of Economist Engineer Jacques Rueff

David Lewis et la rationalité des conventions

Lewis sets out to give meaning to the notion of language convention based on the coordination of rational agents.To do so, he makes use of coordination games which require concepts such as the common knowledge of rationality that turn out to be disputable. Consequently, the link he proposes between convention and rationality appears to be at the same time too strong and too weak. On the one hand, it is hard to demonstrate that conformity to a convention as defined by Lewis may arise from a purely rational behaviour.On the second hand, the concept of convention he uses rules out coordination games in which individual rationality leads to suboptimal choice.

Vers des lumières hayékiennes. De la critique du rationalisme constructiviste à un nouveau rationalisme critique

This paper upholds the thesis that contemporary modelling of complex cognitive, economic, and social systems vindicates Hayek’s conception of modernity and justifies the apparent conservatism of his liberalism. It changes so drastically our conception of rationality that it allows us to overcome Hayek’s criticism of rational constructivism and to work out a new form of critical rationalism. It is now possible to speak of an Hayekian Enlightenment and to conceive of his liberalism as a new Aufklärung.

Quesnay’s Liberty and Rationality

The thought of Quesnay and Physiocrats is ambivalent: on the one hand, it promotes free trade, on the other it develops a political doctrine based on despotism. Would there be a discontinuity of physiocratic thought where the economy is the only space of freedom? For Quesnay, liberty is not absence of constraints; it is an opportunity for calculation and the expression of rationality. It analyzes the origins of this concept through Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz and Locke. The relation between liberty and natural right is analyzed to understand the coherence of physiocratic thought. Thus we understand better the link between liberty and order.

Rational after All: Toward an Improved Theory of Rationality in Economics

In this paper we revisit the literature on rational choice theory (RCT) and the critical approaches to it. We will present a concise description of the theory as defended by Gary Becker, Richard Posner, and James Coleman (as well as others) at the University of Chicago from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. We will discuss its epistemological assumptions and predictions and also the most important counter-arguments. We will emphasize the critique based on behavioral economics and will try to see if humans’ supposed cognitive constraints lead to a failure of rationality or if they constitute rational responses to the scarcity of information, time, and energy. In our discussion, we will use findings from experimental economics and the sciences of the brain, especially evolutionary psychology and neuroeconomics. Our intention is to present an improved theory of rational choice that, on the basis of the above discussion, will be more descriptively accurate without losing its predicting power. We will conclude by trying to answer the most important related policy question: when rationality seems to fail, does this necessarily imply that agents should be paternalistically protected from themselves? We will briefly defend the thesis that, in the long-run, it is much better for society at large if individual decision makers are left alone to develop rational responses to their cognitive constraints.

From one convention to another: When rationality “performs” the real

This article deals with the idea of the performativity of economics. We use the notion of convention in order to emphasize a necessary condition for performativity of the scientific conventions. We show that performativity could be seen as the translation of a scientific convention into the social world. We demonstrate that such a translation needs the scientific concept to take a peculiar form: an empirical one. We study the example of the performativity of economic rationality, which is now a central concept of a new kind of public policy: “nudge” economics.

At the foundation of altruism: The bond as finality

Behavioral economics sought to draw inspiration from research on empathy to modify the interactive model of homo economicus. However, it was faced with the impossibility of considering emotions, and emotional empathy in particular, within the framework of a theory of social preferences rooted in the rationality of the interactionist and individualistic model of game theory. This impossibility is due to the fact that game theory first, then behavioral economics, did not want to question the fundamental motives of the individual when he/she interacts with others. Yet the question of emotions, and emotional empathy in particular, should lead to questioning the sources of behavior. Indeed, what do the other behavioral sciences tell us? While the survival of the organism is undoubtedly a fundamental objective common to all living things, human beings derive their specificity from the fact that they also have fundamental and pre-wired mechanisms that specialize them for life in interaction with their fellows. It is thanks to these fundamental mechanisms that the human species has been able to develop productive and societal modes of cooperation on a large scale. We propose, therefore, a change of perspective in behavioral economics that would allow us to consider that the ultimate objective of the individual in society is not to ensure his/her survival and needs but rather to create and maintain their links with others.

Money in the order of discourse: The symbolic function of money

Money symbolizes value, the sovereign, the people—in short, totality itself. But what is the role of this symbolization? Strictly speaking, the symbolic function of money is to quantify. Yet quantification is already riddled with philosophical problems. Therefore, this paper tries to demonstrate a Foucauldian problematization of the symbolic function of money, in terms of the power-knowledge relationship. Considering the symbolic function of money raises two kinds of issues. First, at the theoretical level, the issue of matching its (intensive) value and its (extensive) manifestation. And at the epistemological level, a problem of objectification of objectification, a self-referential problem of the truth value of value judgments (speculative bubble).