Economics and Philosophy

Essay

NO REVOLUTION NECESSARY: NEURAL MECHANISMS FOR ECONOMICS

Carl F. Cravera1 and Anna Alexandrovaa2

a1 Washington University in St. Louis

a2 University of Missouri St. Louis

Abstract

We argue that neuroeconomics should be a mechanistic science. We defend this view as preferable both to a revolutionary perspective, according to which classical economics is eliminated in favour of neuroeconomics, and to a classical economic perspective, according to which economics is insulated from facts about psychology and neuroscience. We argue that, like other mechanistic sciences, neuroeconomics will earn its keep to the extent that it either reconfigures how economists think about decision-making or how neuroscientists think about brain mechanisms underlying behaviour. We discuss some ways that the search for mechanisms can bring about such top-down and bottom-up revision, and we consider some examples from the recent neuroeconomics literature of how varieties of progress of this sort might be achieved.