Who Is Homo Oeconomicus?

Kapelyushnikov Rostislav
Who Is Homo Oeconomicus?

Publication Type:
Articles in Journals

ISSN 1994-5124

DOI: 10.18288/1994-5124-2020-1-8-39

The paper traces the historical roots of the concept “economic man”, and reveals the main methodological characteristics of the rational choice model, which tra-ditionally constituted the “hard core” of the economic approach to human behav-ior. The phrase Homo oeconomicus was coined in Great Britain at the end of the 19th  century  by  critics  of  political  economy  in  order  to  fix  at  the  terminological level the apparent unrealisticness of the ideas the latter had developed about hu-man being and human behavior. However, economists quickly appropriated this concept, making it neutral and starting to use it for their own analytical purposes. At the  same  time,  they  understood  from  the  very  beginning  that  it  was  nothing more than an abstract conceptual scheme, incapable of claiming descriptive realism. Accordingly, its criticism by sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists most often turned out to be untenable due to their erroneous confusion of the con-cepts  of  “analytical  construct”  and  “anthropological  type”.  Next,  the  paper  high-lights the transformation of modern economics from a mono-paradigmatic into a multi-paradigmatic discipline, and the emergence within it of numerous com-peting models of man. In this context, several incarnations of Homo oeconomicus  are  discussed:  the  traditional  (“narrow”)  version;  the  extended  (Beckerian) version; behavioral economics; neuroeconomics; and genoeconomics. The paper also provides a comparative analysis of different perceptions of man intrinsic to economics  and  sister  social  sciences.  The  author  concludes  that,  in  its  modified and  truncated  form,  the  conventional  Homo  oeconomicus  remains  a  reference point even for the latest studies in economics and psychology, where it is subject to various deconstructions.

Keywords: homo oeconomicus, methodology of economics, rational choice, beha­vioral economics |

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