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Beliefs in Action : Economic Philosophy and Social Change - Eduardo Giannetti da Fonseca

Beliefs in Action

Economic Philosophy and Social Change

Hardcover

Published: 25th October 1991
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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.

"Fonseca's thesis is argued convincingly with a rich mixture of philosophy and economics blended into a very readable account suitable for both undergraduate and gradutate students." Choice "...Eduardo Giannetti Da Fonseca presents a provocative and detailed examination of Keynes's claim and, in the process, brings to light a view of the complexity of human nature and an enhanced picture of the growth of knowledge...eliefs in Action is an engaging book. It starts with the idea embraced by many economists that beliefs govern social action, examines that idea from varied perspectives, and ultimately argues that economists are not as influential as they might think. In essence, Da Fonseca challenges his readers at the same time he educates them about views of human nature and the growth of knowledge." Journal of Economic Issues "...a work of considerable merit." James R. Wible, History of Political Economy

Preface and acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
The War of Ideas
From Hume to Hayek: economic policy and the role of ideas in social action
The scientific challenge to economic philosophy, I: physicalism and the birth of the 'man-machine' doctrine: La Mettrie
The scientific challenge to economic philosophy, II: economics and the rise of 'economic man': Jevons and edgeworth
Economic man and man-machine: some logical parallels and contrasts between the two concepts
The logic of the economic situation: complex societies and the choice of cunduct-enforcing mechanisms
The passions of the imagination, I: Hume and Adam Smith on the sub-rational determinants of belief
The passions of the imagination, II: Hume and Adam Smith on the psychology of the economic agent
Conclusion to part I
Patterns of Misunderstanding
Understanding misunderstandings: the intergenerational transmission of ideas and the time-factor
Contracts and traps: Bacon's contract of error and the notion of pure misunderstanding
On the misuse of language: ordinary language, formalism and the false-security pitfall
Errors and illusions: Francis Bacon on the sub-rational determinants of belief
The protection of belief: pure misunderstanding as the result of theoretical akrasia
On misunderstanding Malthus: the reception of the Essay on Population: critics and supporters
Ideas into politics, I: The transmission of abstract thought: three levels of exchange
Ideas into politics, II: sweeping claims, the philosopher-king and pure misunderstanding
Conclusion to part II
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521393065
ISBN-10: 052139306X
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 25th October 1991
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.57