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Beliefs in Action: Economic Philosophy and Social Change

Beliefs in Action: Economic Philosophy and Social Change

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Eduardo Giannetti Da Fonseca
Cambridge University Press, 11/14/1991
EAN 9780521393065, ISBN10: 052139306X

Hardcover, 272 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.9 cm
Language: English

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 behaviour 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 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.

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.