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Economic Rationality versus Human Reason

The paper “Economic Rationality versus Human Reason” by Laszlo Zsolnai was published in the book Economics as a Moral Science (Peter Rona and Laszlo Zsolnai (Eds.), Springer, 2017. pp. 57–67).

The paper analyses the rationality assumptions of mainstream economics and shows that they are empirically misleading and normatively inadequate. A world ruled by self-interest-based rationality leads to “unreason” from a wider ecological and human perspective.

Zsolnai argues that reason requires that economic activities are achieved in ecological, future-respecting and prosocial ways. Intrinsically motivated economic agents who balance their attention and concerns across diverse value dimensions are able to follow this principle. Organic agriculture, the Slow Food movement, ethical fashion, fair trade initiatives and ethical banking show the viability of true economic reason under the circumstances of the present-day “rationally foolish” economic world.