Rational Economic Man and His Dog Set Out to Mow a Meadow
By G. R. Steele
This article appeared in the Spring 2005 issue of The Independent Review
As defined by mainstream economics, rational economic man is one who allocates the scarce resource available to him efficiently among competing uses. But a simple thought experiment suggests that by ignoring the ends that economic actors seek, this narrow conception of rationality leaves mainstream economics unable to deal satisfactorily with important social problems, because doing so nearly always entails ethical, as well as efficiency, evaluations.