Economics Uncut

Economics Uncut

A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure

Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker

This highly innovative and intriguing book applies principles of microeconomics to unusual settings to inspire students, teachers and scholars alike in the ‘dismal science’. Leading experts show how economics reaches into the strangest of places and throws light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature.


David D. Friedman

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, methodology of economics


David D. Friedman To most people, economics is the study of the economy, important but boring issues such as unemployment, economic growth and inflation. To many economists, economics is not a list of issues but a way of understanding behaviour – all sorts of behaviour in all times and places. The economics of suicide is not about its effect on the GNP but about using the tools of economics to understand why people kill themselves. The economics of law – my current field – is not about how changes in the law affect the economy. It is about law as incentive, legal rules understood as ways of changing how it is in the interest of individuals to act. Applications of economics, across the whole range of human behaviour, share one underlying assumption: that behaviour is best understood by assuming that individuals have purposes and tend to take the actions that achieve them – are, at least in that limited sense, rational actors. From rationality we get the economist’s approach to value – the principle of revealed preference. If I act to achieve my objectives, you can deduce the objectives from the acts. If I buy an apple for a dollar but refuse to buy it for a dollar fifty, I must value the apple at more than the former amount but less than the latter. If I boast of my love for great novels but spend my time reading thrillers instead, that tells you two things about me – that I value thrillers...