Identity and Individual Economic Agents: A Narrative Approach

29 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2008

See all articles by John B. Davis

John B. Davis

Marquette University; University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: June 25, 2008


This paper offers an account of how individuals act as agents when we employ a narrative approach to explaining their personal identities. It applies Korsgaard's idea of a "reflective structure of consciousness" to provide foundations for a richer account of the individual economic agent, and uses this to explain and distinguish the concepts of personal identity, individual identity, and social identity. The paper argues that individuals' personal identities may be in conflict with their socially constructed individual identities. Individuals' social identities are represented as a link between personal identity and individual identity. The overall framework is proposed as an alternative to the atomistic individual conception and a contribution to the socially embedded individual conception.

Keywords: individuals, personal identity, Korsgaard, individual identity, social identity, Livet, social scaffolding

JEL Classification: B40, A13

Suggested Citation

Davis, John B., Identity and Individual Economic Agents: A Narrative Approach (June 25, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

John B. Davis (Contact Author)

Marquette University ( email )

P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
United States

University of Amsterdam ( email )


Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA

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