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Mentalism versus behaviourism in economics: a philosophy-of-science perspective

Dietrich, Franz and List, Christian (2015) Mentalism versus behaviourism in economics: a philosophy-of-science perspective. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Dietrich, Franz
List, Christian
Keywords: Mentalism, behaviourism, revealed preference, decision theory, scientific realism, instrumentalism, unobservables, ontological commitment, neuroeconomics
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Christian List
Date Deposited: 28 May 2015 13:28
Last Modified: 28 May 2015 13:28
Item ID: 11486
Official URL: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/list/PDF-files/Mentalism...
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 17 May 2015
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11486

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