- The individual in recent economics: Internalist and externalist conceptions
- Storia del Pensiero Economico. Nuova Serie
- Volume | Issue number
- 5 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam School of Economics Research Institute (ASE-RI)
This paper examines different conceptions of the individual in a number of recent new approaches in economics, including prospect theory, market experimentalism, social preferences views, the game theoretic approaches of Michael Bacharach and Don Ross, and civil happiness views. These conceptions are classified as internalist or externalist according to whether they explain individuals by reference to their own characteristics or in terms of their relations to other individuals. It is argued that the task any particular conception of the individual in economics encounters is to explain how the individual concept applies at one and the same time to single persons, any of a person’s different selves, and collections of persons. The internalist conceptions reviewed are argued to ultimately be circular, and either fail to explain how individuals have multiple selves or how individuals can be part of collective individuals. The externalist conceptions reviewed offer potentially viable conceptions of individuals in both respects, but do not explain how individuals thus understood endure through processes of change.
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