Late neoclassical economics: Restoration of theoretical humanism in contemporary mainstream economics
This dissertation investigates whether or not there is a clear break between neoclassical economics (up to the 1970s) and the contemporary mainstream economic approaches. The term “contemporary mainstream economic approaches” refers to a seemingly heterogeneous set of approaches that include, among others, new institutional economics, new information economics, social choice theory, behavioral economics, evolutionary game theory, and experimental economics. In this dissertation, in contrast to those who declare the “death of neoclassical economics” and find a clear break (i.e., rupture, paradigm shift) between neoclassical economics and the number of contemporary mainstream approaches listed above, I conclude that these seemingly disparate approaches constitute a unified discursive formation articulated around the theoretical problematic of theoretical humanism that they share not only with one another but also with neoclassical economics. For this reason, in order to underscore the philosophico-theoretical as well as the historico-genealogical continuity between neoclassical economics (up to the 1970s) and the contemporary mainstream economic approaches, I shall refer to the latter as late neoclassical economics.
In the late neoclassical context, neither the essentialist notions of human subject that involve self-transparency, autonomy, rationality, and intentional agency nor the ontologies of concordance, harmony, order and equilibrium are thoroughly scrutinized. On the contrary, the late neoclassical context is characterized by a concerted and multipronged effort to extend the scope of application of these notions and ontologies either by way of broadening and enriching their meanings or by way of introducing newer concepts that formulate the problem in slightly different ways (e.g., static versus dynamic, general versus partial, price-adjustment versus market-adjustment, cooperative versus non-cooperative) that would not necessarily address, but essentially sidestep, the problems that trouble the earlier formulations. In fact, in this sense, the contemporary mainstream economics is nothing but the shape that neoclassical economics has taken as a mature and developed theoretical tradition.