Academic discipline of economics as hedonist philosophy

Journal of Philosophical Economics Volume XIV Issue-14 (1-2) (2021)
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Abstract

Contemporary mainstream economics cannot be seen as disconnected from philosophical concerns. On the contrary, it should be understood as a defence for a specific philosophy, namely, crude quantitative hedonism where money would measure pleasure and pain. Disguised among a great mathematical apparatus involving utility functions, supply, and demand, lies a specific hedonist philosophy that every year is lectured to thousands of economic and business students around the world. This hedonist philosophy is much less sophisticated than that in ancient hedonist philosophers as Epicurus or Lucretius. Furthermore, it does not solve any of the systematic difficulties regularly faced by hedonist philosophy. However, the argument that economics is detached from philosophy works as a rhetorical artifice to protect its dominant underlying philosophy: Philosophical disputes would have to be addressed within the biased mathematical apparatus of quantitative hedonism. Economists and business students must learn to identify the underlying philosophy in mainstream economics and alternative philosophical systems.

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Tiago Cardao-Pito
Universidade de Lisboa

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