Arjo Klamer - An essay on the need to redefine economics for the sake of a human economy

jpe:10887 - Journal of Philosophical Economics, October 13, 2023, Volume XVI - https://doi.org/10.46298/jpe.10887
An essay on the need to redefine economics for the sake of a human economyArticle

Authors: Arjo Klamer ORCID1

  • 1 Erasmus University Rotterdam

More than 90 years after Lionel Robbins more or less defined the subject ofeconomics in his famous essay, it is time to redress the issue in light of recent developments and new insights. Robbins used the figure of Robinson Crusoe to define homo economicus as an agent that makes choices in conditions of scarcity. By re-reading and re-interpreting the story of Crusoe, we make more sense of the narrative when we envisage people engaged in practices by which they realize what is important to them, that is, their values. Homo economicus becomes a special case pertinent to theinstrumental economies of markets and organizations. In the so-called human economies of the home, the social, cultural, and natural world, people use the inputs that they acquire in the instrumental economies to realize what is important to them, such as families, friendships, science, art, religion, meanings. This shift in perspective will have far reaching consequence for the way economists think and theorize and enables them to connect with the value-based approach that is increasingly dominatingthe worlds of business and politics.


Volume: Volume XVI
Section: Symposium: Is there a future for heterodox economics?
Published on: October 13, 2023
Accepted on: March 29, 2023
Submitted on: February 1, 2023
Keywords: definition of economics,human economy,values,[SHS]Humanities and Social Sciences

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