Economics, Philosophy of

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Economics is of philosophical interest for three reasons. First, its methodological peculiarities: its extreme simplifications, its inexactness, its reliance on a deductive method, and the importance of causal claims concerning mechanisms, tendencies and capacities. Second, economics depends on a theory of rationality and has implications for the understanding of preference, utility, and self-interest. Finally, economics is relevant to ethical questions, particularly concerning efficiency and welfare. Philosophical reflection is of interest to economists because it can help to clarify methodological problems, improve the theory of rationality, and unscramble, expand, and sharpen the ethical implications. Although the philosophy of economics addresses many topics, a great deal of it has focused on the specific model of rationality and choice that is embedded in mainstream microeconomics. But the failure of economists to anticipate the financial crisis of 2008 and to provide unambiguous advice about how to restore prosperity has increased interest in the methodology of macroeconomics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Economic methodology
  • J.S. Mill
  • Karl Popper
  • Milton Friedman
  • Rationality
  • Reasons
  • Utility
  • Welfare economics


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