Beliefs in Action: Economic Philosophy and Social Change

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $41.69
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 7%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (4) from $41.69   
  • New (3) from $41.69   
  • Used (1) from $67.34   


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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521100601
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/29/2009
  • 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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)