Handbook of Economics and Ethics
Show Less

Handbook of Economics and Ethics

Edited by Jan Peil and Irene van Staveren

The Handbook of Economics and Ethics portrays an understanding of economic methodology in which facts and values, though distinct, are closely interconnected in a variety of ways. From theory building to data collection, and from modelling to policy evaluation, this encyclopaedic Handbook is at the intersection of economics and ethics.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 30: Homo Economicus

Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert


Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert Homo economicus or economic man is a model of human agency in which the individual actor maximizes his own well-being given the constraints he faces. This approach has become the prevalent approach to human behaviour among economists, and has permeated other social sciences as well through so-called ‘rational choice theory’. For instance, rational choice theory has been used to analyse crime, voting behaviour and educational choices (Becker, 1992). Historical antecedents The birth of homo economicus as we understand the concept nowadays is found in the work of John Stuart Mill. The concept was developed in his Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (1844) and full-fledged in his Principles of Political Economy (1848). In his Essays, Mill wrote: [Political economy] does not treat of the whole of man’s nature as modified by the social state, nor of the whole conduct of man in society. It is concerned with him solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging of the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end. It predicts only such of the phenomena of the social state as take place in consequence of the pursuit of wealth. It makes entire abstraction of every other human passion or motive; except those which may be regarded as perpetually antagonizing principles to the desire of wealth, namely, aversion to labour, and desire of the present enjoyment of costly indulgences. (Mill 1844, Essay V, Ch. 3) Mill’s model of behaviour embodies a commitment...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.