, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 197-222

Cognitive perspectives in economics

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Abstract

The integration of learning cognitive agents in the research agenda is an important step in the evolution of economics. However, relying on a retrospective analysis of the treatment of decision making in economics, this article argues that the cognitive programme aims to justify rational behaviour in an equilibrium framework rather than to integration an interpretative conception of agents' behaviour. As a consequence, the level of generality of analytical results remains limited and economists miss the opportunity to establish a discussion with other social sciences. In particular, it fails to analyse a class of situations related to the problem of knowledge creation and the subsequent learning paradox. Building on recent advances in heterodox cognitive science, we suggest a behavioural approach that discriminates different learning situations. If applied, this approach would permit a better understanding of human behaviour and a richer analysis of coordination mechanisms in unfamiliar environment with no loss of rigour.

Received: First submission 10 September 2001; Second submission 13 February 2004