Philosophy of Economics

A Contemporary Introduction

By Julian Reiss

© 2013 – Routledge

352 pages

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Paperback: 9780415881173
pub: 2013-03-25
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About the Book

Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction is the first systematic textbook in the philosophy of economics. It introduces the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical problems that arise in economics, and presents detailed discussions of the solutions that have been offered.

Throughout, philosophical issues are illustrated by and analysed in the context of concrete cases drawn from contemporary economics, the history of economic ideas, and actual economic events. This demonstrates the relevance of philosophy of economics both for the science of economics and for the economy.

This text will provide an excellent introduction to the philosophy of economics for students and interested general readers alike.


'Economists can no longer avoid the agenda of problems in the philosophy of economics, if they ever could. Equally, political and moral philosophers ignore economics at their own intellectual peril. Julian Reiss takes us on an insider’s tour of the most important issues in this domain, teaching economists and philosophers what they need to know about how each of their disciplines have an impact on the other. For completeness, currency and clarity, Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction cannot be beat.'Alex Rosenberg, Duke University, USA

'Julian Reiss’s Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction is far and away the best text on the subject. It is comprehensive, well-organized, sensible, and clearly written. It is the first text that I’ve ever been eager to use in teaching the subject. I expect that everyone interested in philosophy of economics, whether with a background in philosophy or with a background in economics, will learn a great deal from Reiss’s masterful treatment.' – Daniel M. Hausman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

'Economic science has changed enormously over the last two decades, seeking fruitful collaborations with scholars working in other disciplines. An important site of exchange lies at the border between philosophy and economics. Julian Reiss’ book provides a wonderful critical survey of the debates that have flourished around the turn of the millennium, and will become a standard reference point for teaching and research in the years to come.'Francesco Guala, University of Milan, Italy

'An enormous range of topics are included in this book, with a full one third of the book covering ethical, social, and political issues. …The end result is that Reiss’s book allows for tremendous flexibility in designing different courses. For example, it would be easy to develop courses that involved nearly all philosophy of science issues or ones that were mostly normative issues around economics, with any mix in between. I also think Reiss’s text can work as the sole book for a course or be used along with other articles to expand on the discussion Reiss provides. The book certainly provides much material that can usefully be expanded upon in lectures. There is nothing out there that rivals it for teaching a course on philosophy of economics, and it would be a good tool for certain kinds of courses in political philosophy or philosophy and public policy.'Harold Kincaid, University of Cape Town, South Africa in Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Why, What, and How of Philosophy of Economics Part 1: Interpreting Economic Theory Chapter 2: Explaining Economic Phenomena Part 1-A: Rationality Chapter 3: Rational Choice Theory Chapter 4: Game Theory Part 1-B: Causality Chapter 5: Causation and Causal Tendencies Chapter 6: Mechanisms Part 1-C: Models Chapter 7: Models, Idealisation, Explanation Part 2: Methodology Chapter 8: Measurement Chapter 9: Econometrics Chapter 10: Experiments Chapter 11: Evidence-Based Policy Part 3: Ethics Chapter 12: Welfare and Well-Being Chapter 13: Markets and Morals Chapter 14: Inequality and Distributive Justice Chapter 15: Behavioral Economics and Nudge Bibliography

About the Author

Julian Reiss is Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. He has a degree in economics and finance from the University of St Gallen and a PhD in philosophy from the London School of Economics. His main research interests are methodologies of the sciences, philosophy of economics, and science and values. He is the author of Error in Economics: Towards a More Evidence-Based Methodology (2008), Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction (2013), and some 40 papers in leading philosophy and social science journals and edited collections.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy

An innovative, well structured series, the Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy are designed for students who already have completed an introductory-level course in philosophy.  Each book introduces a core general subject in contemporary philosophy and offers students an accessible but substantial transition from introductory to higher-level college work in that subject.  The series is accessible to non-specialists and each book clearly motivates and expounds the problems and positions introduced.  An orientating chapter briefly introduces its topic and reminds readers of any crucial material they need to have retained from a typical introductory course.  Considerable attention is given to explaining central philosophical problems of a subject and the main competing solutions and arguments for those solutions.  The primary aim is to educate students in the main problems, positions and arguments of contemporary philosophy rather than to convince students of a single position.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory

Author's Website

Visit the author’s website for links to digital, chapter-by-chapter readings that expand upon the topics covered in the book.