Does economic man exist? Do aggregates exist? Do markets have an essence? How are economic phenomena caused? Do economists believe in the theories they use? These essays seek to unearth the "ontological underworld" that shapes the criteria economists use in making choices among theories to understand economic behavior. These criteria include fundamental, unarticulated ideas regarding the basic constitutents and structure of social reality, that is, about human beings and the social arrangement of their lives. This important collection will be of great value to economists and philosophers of social sciences.
"The publication of this new book on the philosophy of economics is reason to celebrate, and the editor deserves praise for this accomplishment. It is the mature outcome of years of reflection on the subject.... This is one of the best books that I have read on philosophy of economics...it is necessary for anyone who wants to know the current state of this exciting field of research." Markets and Morality
Part I. The What, Why, and How of Economic Ontology: 1. Economic ontology: What? Why? How? Uskali Mäki; 2. The empirical presuppositions of metaphysical explanations Harold Kincaid; 3. Quality and quantity in economics: the metaphysical construction of the economic realm; Part II. Rationality and Homo Economicus: 4. The normatic core of rational choice Russel Hardin; 5. The virtual reality of homo economicus Philip Pettit; 6. Expressive rationality: is self worth just another kind of preference? Shaun Hargreaves; 7. Agent identity in economics John Davis; 8. Chances and choices: notes on probability and beliefs in economic theory Jochen Runde; Part III. Micro, Macro, and Markets: 9. Essences and markets John O'Neill; 10. The metaphysics of microeconomics Alex Rosenberg; 11. Ontological commitments of evolutionary economics Jack Vronen; 12. Is macroeconomics for real? Kevin D. Hoover; 13. The possibility of economic objectivity Don Ross and Fred Bennet; Part IV. The World of Economic Causes: 14. Ceteris paribus laws and socio-economic machines Nancy Cartwright; 15. Tendencies, laws, and the composition of economic causes; 16. Economics without mechanism John Dupre; Part V. Methodological Implications of Economic Ontology: 17. Sargent's symmetry saga: ontological versus technical constraints; 18. Two models of idealization in economics Alan Nelson; 19. The way the world works (www): towards an ontology of theory choice Uskali Mäki.