Neuroeconomics, Naturalism, and Language

31 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2007 Last revised: 17 Jun 2008

See all articles by Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies


Neuroeconomics stays in the center of the ongoing naturalistic turn in economics. It portrays the individual as a complex system of decision making mechanisms and modules. This results into a conceptual tension with the standard economic notion of the unity of the actor that is a systemic property of economic coordination. I propose to supplement neuroeconomics with a naturalistic theory of social coordination. Recent neurobiological and psychological research strongly supports claims made by some heterodox economists that the identity of actors emerges from social interaction, especially in the context of the use of language. Therefore I argue that the completion of the neuroeconomic paradigm requires a naturalistic theory of language. I provide some sketches based on teleosemantics and memetics, and exemplify the argument by a naturalist account of money.

Keywords: naturalism, neuroeconomics, individual identity, language and economics, naturalistic theory of social interaction

JEL Classification: A12, B41, D87

Suggested Citation

Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, Neuroeconomics, Naturalism, and Language. Available at SSRN: or

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath (Contact Author)

Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies ( email )

Nordhäuserstr. 74
Erfurt, 90228

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics