Neuroeconomics: Infeasible and Underdetermined

Robert McMaster, Marco Novarese
2016 Journal of Economic Issues  
Advocates of neuroeconomics claim to offer the prospect of creating a "unified behavioral theory" by drawing upon the techniques of neuroscience and psychology and combining them with economic theory. Ostensibly, through the "direct measurement" of our thoughts, economics and social science will be "revolutionized." Such claims have been subject to critique from mainstream and nonmainstream economists alike. Many of these criticisms relate to measurability, relevance, and coherence. In this
more » ... cle, we seek to contribute to this critical examination by investigating the potential of underdetermination, such as the statement that testing involves the conjunction of auxiliary assumptions, and that consequently it may not be possible to isolate the effect of any given hypothesis. We argue that neuroeconomics is especially sensitive to issues of underdetermination. Institutional economists should be cautious of neuroeconomists' zeal as they appear to over-interpret experimental findings and, therefore, it may provide a false prospectus seeking to reinforce the nostrums of homo economicus.
doi:10.1080/00213624.2016.1249745 fatcat:6b33jrub4jhbni6khtdzlpwfbi