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Cambridge University Press
Beliefs in Action: Economic Philosophy and Social Change

Beliefs in Action: Economic Philosophy and Social Change

by Eduardo Giannetti Da FonsecaEduardo Giannetti Da Fonseca
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This book is concerned with the role of economic philosophy ("ideas") in the processes of belief-formation and social change. Its aim is to further our understanding of the behavior of the individual economic agent by bringing to light and examining the function of non-rational dispositions and motivations ("passions") in the determination of the agent's beliefs and goals. Drawing on the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, the book spells out the particular ways in which the passions come to affect our ordinary understanding and conduct in practical affairs and the intergenerational and interpersonal transmission of ideas through language. Concern with these problems, it is argued, lies at the heart of an important tradition in the British moral philosophy. This emphasis on the non-rational nature of our belief-fixation mechanisms has important implications: it helps to clarify and qualify the misleading claims often made by utilitarian, Marxist, Keynesian, and neo-liberal economic philosophers, all of whom stress the overriding power of ideas to shape conduct, policy, and institutions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521100601
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 01/29/2009
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Part I. The War of Ideas; 1. From Hume to Hayek; 2. The scientific challenge to economic philosophy I; 3. The scientific challenge to economic philosophy, II; 4. Economic man and man-machine; 5. The logic of the economic situation; 6. The passions of the imagination I; 7. The passions of the imagination II; Conclusion to part I; Part II. Patterns of misunderstanding; 8. Understanding misunderstandings; 9. Contracts and traps; 10. On the misuse of language; 11. Errors and illusions; 12. The protection of belief; 13. On misunderstanding Malthus; 14. Ideas into politics I; 15. Ideas into politics II; Conclusion to part II; Notes, Bibliography; Index.

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