Neuroeconomics: infeasible and underdetermined

McMaster, R. and Novarese, M. (2016) Neuroeconomics: infeasible and underdetermined. Journal of Economic Issues, 50(4), pp. 963-983. (doi: 10.1080/00213624.2016.1249745)

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Advocates of neuroeconomics claim to offer the prospect of creating a “unified behavioral theory” by drawing upon the techniques of neuroscience and psychology and combining them with economic theory. Ostensibly, through the “direct measurement” of our thoughts, economics and social science will be “revolutionized.” Such claims have been subject to critique from mainstream and non-mainstream economists alike. Many of these criticisms relate to measurability, relevance, and coherence. In this article, we seek to contribute to this critical examination by investigating the potential of underdetermination, such as the statement that testing involves the conjunction of auxiliary assumptions, and that consequently it may not be possible to isolate the effect of any given hypothesis. We argue that neuroeconomics is especially sensitive to issues of underdetermination. Institutional economists should be cautious of neuroeconomists’ zeal as they appear to over-interpret experimental findings and, therefore, neuroeconomics may provide a false prospectus seeking to reinforce the nostrums of homo economicus.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McMaster, Professor Robert
Authors: McMaster, R., and Novarese, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Journal of Economic Issues
Publisher:Taylor and Francis (Routledge)
ISSN (Online):1946-326X
Published Online:21 November 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Journal of Economic Issues
First Published:First published in Journal of Economic Issues 50(4):963-983
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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