Homo Economicus and Homo Stramineus
Charles University in Prague - Center for Theoretical Study
September 15, 2012
Prague Economic Papers, Forthcoming
The model of Homo economicus has often been criticized as unrealistic. In particular, it has been found lacking for allegedly assuming that people are selfish, an assumption which is contradicted by both introspection and empirical evidence. The aim of this paper is to show that never in the history of the economic discipline has selfishness constituted the core of the Homo economicus model. In fact, the standard economic model of behaviour which has been used by economists for more than a hundred years is reticent about the motives of behaviour. Critics thus do not criticize Homo economicus but a straw man – Homo stramineus. Three possible reasons for confusing Homo economicus with Homo stramineus are identified: malicious intent, ignorance and an attempt to avoid the tautological model of behaviour.
Keywords: Homo economicus, Self-interest, Desire of wealth, Utility, Rationality
JEL Classification: B12, B13, B21, B41, D01
Date posted: September 16, 2012 ; Last revised: April 4, 2015
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