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Hodgson, Cumulative Causation, and Reflexive Economic Agents

John Davis ()

No 2016-05, Working Papers and Research from Marquette University, Center for Global and Economic Studies and Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper examines Geoff Hodgson’s interpretation of Veblen in agency-structure terms, and argues it produces a conception of reflexive economic agents. It then sets out an account of cumulative causation processes using this reflexive agent conception, modeling them as a two-part causal process, one part involving a linear causal relation and one part involving a circular causal relation. The paper compares the reflexive agent conception to the standard expected utility conception of economic agents, and argues that on a cumulative causation view of the world the completeness assumption essential to the standard view of rationality cannot be applied. The final discussion addresses the nature of the choice behavior of reflexive economic agents, using the thinking of Amartya Sen and Herbert Simon to frame how agents might approach choice in regard to each of the two different parts of cumulative causal processes, and closing with brief comments on behavioral economics’ understanding of reference dependence and position adjustment.

Keywords: Hodgson; Veblen; cumulative causation; reflexive agents; completeness assumption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B41 B52 D01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme, nep-hpe, nep-pke, nep-sog and nep-upt
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Chapter: Hodgson, cumulative causation and reflexive economic agents (2019) Downloads
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