Economics and/or Psychology? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Behavioural Economics

May 22, 2017 - May 23, 2017
TINT, Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Unioninkatu 40, PL 24
Helsinki 00140
Finland

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Keynote speakers:

Erik Angner
Stockholm University
Arno Riedl
University of Maastricht

Organisers:

Magdalena Malecka
University of Helsinki
Michiru Nagatsu
University of Helsinki

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Once challengers to the economic orthodoxy of rational choice, behavioural economists have now established a respected status within mainstream economics. Behavioural economists receive substantial funding, space in top journals, positions in elite departments, prestigious prizes and appointments for institutionally influential posts, as well as increasing attention from the mainstream media and policy makers. Historical and bibliometric analyses confirm this "mainstreaming" of behavioural economics.

Several questions regarding behavioural economics' identity have become salient, as it entered mainstream, finding applications in subfields as diverse as finance, development, education, labour, mechanism design, real estate, environment, and welfare. What is, if any, the core of this research program? How exactly is behavioural economics related to received economic theories to which it - at least at the outset - vigorously objected? Has it decisively estranged itself from psychology, from which its significant part originated? Or is it still evolving under the interdisciplinary influences of behavioural and cognitive sciences? What kind of normative investigations inspired by behavioural economics inform policy recommendations?

These are the open questions to which practicing behavioural economists themselves provide diverging answers. This two-day workshop thus critically examines diverse scientific principles and practices in behavioural economics, its (sub)disciplinary identity, normative implications and multiple ways of integrating psychological and other relevant scientific findings with economics. We welcome contributions from multiple approaches including (but not limited to):

  • History and philosophy of science
  • Economic methodology
  • History of economic thought
  • Science and technology studies
  • Sociology of science
  • Science policy, and
  • Behavioural economists' own observations and reflections

Questions we will address include (but are not limited to):

  • Is it possible to define behavioural economics by a set of theoretical or methodological commitments? Do these commitments explain its current standing?
  • Is behavioural economics a truly interdisciplinary endeavour, or is it just a minor modification of the so-called neoclassical economics?
  • Why has so-called "new" behavioural economics become mainstream, whereas alternative approaches to integrate psychological insights with economics have not gained similar standing?
  • What is the interplay between the epistemic and the institutional dimensions in the development of interdisciplinary exchanges between economics and other disciplines?
  • How do we account for behavioural economics' apparent epistemic and/or academic success?

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#Helsinki Behavioral Economics 2017