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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 4 / 2016 (609), Winter

Human nature in the economic behavior based on the neoclassical economic model

School of Advanced Studies of the Romanian Academy

Abstract. We will approach in this article the question of human nature in economics. The traditional homo oeconomicus, as presented in mainstream economics, seems to represent the model of a perfect economic individual. We will question whether the fundamental coordinates of homo oeconomicus, rationality, self-interest and selfishness, capture the essence of human beings and if there is an universal human nature. We propose a more flexible portrait of the economic individual, with insights from recent psychological research, and we suggest that it is society which shapes human nature and character. There is no fixed or inherited human nature. An environment of inequalities makes the individual act in a selfish and utilitarian way, while a more fair social organization would make individuals altruistic and more cooperative. Values are also missing from the traditional portrait of homo oeconomicus. Human beings do not simply and always pursuit optimization, but choose often guided by ethical considerations beyond utility calculus.

Keywords: neoclassical economics, human nature, homo oeconomicus, inequality, values.

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The Economicity. The Epistemic Landscape, Marin Dinu, 2016


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