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Neuroeconomics: New Heart for Economics or New Face of Economic Imperialism

Neuroeconomics: New Heart for Economics or New Face of Economic Imperialism

Journal of Institutional Studies, , Vol. 11 (no. 1),

Neuroeconomics is often seen as the result of neuroscience expansion into economics. However, economics itself has a substantial background of epistemic intervention by spreading rational choice modelling over sociology, political science and part of biology. Neuroeconomics contributes considerably to the economic imperialism progress by developing an important tendency. We would describe it as deeper universalization of economic (rational) behavior by its naturalization and transmuting it in completely biochemical phenomenon. The paper reviews the Paul Glimcher’s project of neuroeconomics as a specific version of economic imperialism claiming that the brain can be modeled using the principles of standard economic theory. Considering neuroeconomics as a methodological approach, the authors show that behind the ideas of reducibility of key economics’ concepts such as “choice” or “utility” to neuroscience data and of “direct transferring” the concepts from economics into neuroscience lies the intention to reinterpret and rewrite neuroscience and other life sciences in terms of economics. It could be done if one would demonstrate the identity of brain and logical or computer structure and if the mathematical models taken from economics would hold the economic semantics while applying to the brain activity. Turning “choice” and its “economic relatives” into the key concepts for interpreting the neural structures and their activity would open the way for neuroeconomics to become an imperial science on human, life or even nature itself.


Keywords: neuroeconomics; economic imperialism; neuroscience; reductionism; choice; economic modeling; economic agent

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