The Max U Approach: Prudence-Only, or Not Even Prudence?: A Smithian Perspective
University of Economics, Prague; International Centre for Economic Research (ICER)
September 1, 2012
ICER Working Paper No. 9/2012
McCloskey criticizes Samuelsonian economists for representing human beings in their models by a character she dubs Max U. Max U, she argues, lacks all virtues except for Prudence. The paper explores whether the identity between Max U and Prudence is tenable and whether Samuelsonian economics can be interpreted as a study of Prudence. I juxtapose Max U to the concept of Prudence as it appears in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS).
The reason is twofold: McCloskey assumes stability in the meaning of Prudence from Aristotle to Samuelson and hence any concept of Prudence would work. TMS occupies a prominent position in her argument. I attempt to show that utility maximization is a process distinct from practical reasoning underlying the virtue of Prudence and Samuelsonian economics can therefore not be interpreted as a study of Prudence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 13
Keywords: Max U, Prudence, moral sentiments, Adam Smith, D. N. McCloskey
JEL Classification: B12, B40, D10working papers series
Date posted: September 18, 2012
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