Neuroeconomics. An Emerging Field of Theory and Practice

July 22, 2012 • Emerging Ideas, Finance & Economics, INNOVATION

By James Giordano, Roland Benedikter and Nadia Flores

This article gives a short, introductory overview of basic aspects of the emerging field of neuroeconomics, as a contemporary approach to economic theory and practice. In many ways, neuroeconomics can be regarded as a new, multi- and inter-disciplinary orientation to economic thinking that interweaves the current international renewal of the economic sciences, in particular the “new experimentalism”, and the most recent technological advances in brain research, ecology and environmentalism. Also, the field integrates aspects of trans-culturalism and social anthropology. Given that recent progress in neuroscience and neurotechnology may profoundly modify globalized human culture (and perhaps human behaviour, if not identity), neuroeconomics can be considered as an experimental field that is closely related to the most avant garde developments in the applied sciences. Thus, it has potential to become an important pillar of a broader, and more differentiated post-crisis economic theory that looks beyond neoliberal reductionisms, and is oriented toward multi-dimensionality, integration of different scientific insights, sustainability and an applied, more realistic humanism.


Introduction: The Current renewal of economic thinking

In essence, modern economics can be seen as a fourfold endeavor that can be defined as the mechanisms and systems of selection, use, and practical administration of

1. resources by

2. human beings

3. within an environment

4. through labour and its respective organization.

These four dimensions constitute specific social forms and mechanisms, which then generate variable collective meso-habits or “cultures”, which in the era of globalized modern technology, are closely related to and interwoven with each other (probably more than in any previous epoch of human history). In light of this, one problem of traditional economic theory is that it was widely focused on the first and fourth dimensions, namely, 1) on the extraction and exploitation of resources (with the leading resources changing over time, and currently shifting from oil to renewable energies and precious metals, thus changing a whole cultural history of oil addiction and its widely ramified effects); and 2) on the social and political effects of labour organization as it has existed since the industrial revolution.

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