Chapter 11: Beyond the Rationality of Economic Man, Toward the True Rationality of Human Man
INRODUCTION The concept of rationality used by economists is a central, deﬁning feature of economics today. It is important as both a positive and normative concept. Unfortunately, it is a problematic feature in both senses. A very large number of articles and books have been written about the deﬁciencies of rationality as a positive or descriptive concept, but relatively few have dealt with the deﬁciencies of economic rationality as a normative concept. This chapter proposes: (a) to review and synthesize the most cogent and telling of the arguments in the latter literature; and (b) based on these to develop a more appropriate normative conception of rationality. It is anticipated that this alternative conception of rationality, true rationality, will be especially appropriate for a humanistic economics. Hopefully, it will be a concept that can better serve as a guide to resource allocation in order that the socio-economy can attain its true potential of human wellbeing. This alternative conception should also make more sense from a philosophical, spiritual and religious perspective than the economists’ conception. THE ESSENCE OF RATIONALITY To begin, let’s deﬁne rationality in a very general way, a way that all economists, mainstream and heterodox, might be able to agree upon. Accordingly, rationality involves the appropriate use of reason to make the best possible choices considering what is under the circumstances really in the best interests of the choosing agent (see Rescher, 1988: Chapter 1 for similar deﬁnitions). Wide agreement on this deﬁnition is...
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