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Requiem for Homo Economicus

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Abstract

Homo economicus rests on the silent premises that human communication today is no different than it was in Adam Smith’s day, and therefore human beings relate to each other and to themselves no differently than 225 years ago. In essence, the development of the telegraph followed by the telephone, radio, television, fax, email, and Internet have had no bearing on the way we think about economic agency. Homo economicus never changes. Proclaiming a requiem for homo economicus is more than just clever rhetoric. The call is grounded in an understanding of human nature that surfaced with the development of electronic communication that altered our awareness of others and of ourselves and gave birth to the philosophy of personalism. Burying homo economicus and substituting homo socioeconomicus brings the basic unit of economic analysis out of the individualism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into the personalism of the twentieth century.

Edward J. O'Boyle, "Requiem for Homo Economicus," Journal of Markets & Morality 10, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 321-337


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