The Normative Claims of Behavioral Economics

It is often unstated, but nonetheless true, that the fundamental normative claim of behavioral economics is that people should be rational. The guiding aim of every “nudge” is to make neoclassical economics true.The behavioral economic utopia coincides with the neoclassical. Insofar as it seeks to make people better, it makes them better self-interested rational maximizers. What it doesn’t do is aim to make people more generous, compassionate, or industrious, unless, that is, those people already are driven by those values. Nudges are about means, not ends.

Of course, now that every moron on the left grasps onto the theory, they think it supports their values. Thus we arrive at buncombe like this from Andrian Kreye at the

The aim of behavioral economics is to develop mechanisms that can enable what is called “nudging”—the psychological control of the Homo economicus.

No no Herr Kreye–you see, the guiding aim is not psychological control of homo economicus, since the descriptive claim of the theory is that homo economics doesn’t exist. No no, the aim is mould a homo economicus out of homo irrationalis.


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