The Ontology of 'the Economic': An Aristotelian Analysis

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

Date Written: September 2006


Tony Lawson's and Uskali Mäki's respective realist projects rely on an ontology of the economy. This paper will not focus on these research projects but will instead try to shed light on them by introducing an ontology of the economy according to Aristotle. Oikonomiké, the seminal term used by him, is not a noun but an adjective. For Aristotle, nouns express entities or beings, both self-sufficient beings and accidental properties. Adjectives almost always express accidents. What kind of being is 'the economic'? This analysis will suggest some conclusions about the constraints of economic science and the need for institutions according to the peculiar ontological condition of 'the economic' as conceived by Aristotle.

Keywords: Realism, Ontology of economy, Aristotle

Suggested Citation

Crespo, Ricardo F., The Ontology of 'the Economic': An Aristotelian Analysis (September 2006). Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 30, Issue 5, pp. 767-781, 2006, Available at SSRN: or

Ricardo F. Crespo (Contact Author)

Universidad Austral and CONICET ( email )

Buenos Aires
54-2322-481049 (Phone)
54-2322-481050 (Fax)

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