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Philosophical Reflection on the Concept of Economic Rationality

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2005, (53), pp.33-63
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities

Nam-In Lee 1

1서울대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the concept of economic rationality from a philosophical point of view. According to the mainstream economics, economic rationality is an instrumental rationality; it is the rationality par excellence to which all the other kinds of rationality could be reduced; it is only the individual, not the society that could be the bearer of rationality; economic rationality as an instrumental rationality could be the foundation of economics. Contrary to what mainstream economics presupposes, there are various kinds of rationality that cannot be reduced to economic rationality. It is not only the individual, but also the society that could be the bearer of rationality and one can talk about social rationality as well. The concept of economic rationality is ambiguous, since it could be interpreted as a descriptive one or as a normative one. Moreover, the concept of economic rationality as a descriptive one as well as a normative one has some difficulties. The concept of economic rationality as a descriptive one is problematic, since there are so many types of economic behavior that do not have the property of economic rationality. The concept of economic rationality does not enable us to describe properly all types of economic behavior. The concept of economic rationality as a normative one is also problematic, since it is not clear if an economic behavior or an economic society that incarnates economic rationality is really an ideal one. The concept of economic rationality as a normative one is not free from ideological implication.

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