Journal of Bioeconomics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 145–167 | Cite as

Neuroeconomics as a Natural Extension of Bioeconomics: The Shifting Scope of Standard Economic Theory

  • Jack J. VromenEmail author
Open Access


Neuroeconomics rightly has been claimed to be a natural extension of bioeconomics. One of the things bioeconomics investigates is what behavioral dispositions and what behavioral patterns evolutionary processes have produced. Neuroeconomics extends this to the study of evolved mechanisms that are at work in decision-making at the neural level of the brain. The paper argues that in another respect neuroeconomics and bioeconomics are discontinuous, however. Bioeconomics maintains that the applicability of standard economic theory’s constrained maximization framework is not confined to human behavior. The constrained maximization framework is believed to be suitable to describe behavior throughout the animal kingdom. By contrast, despite some minor internal disagreements all neuroeconomists seem to agree that human behavior is predicted poorly by standard economic theory in several social and economic situations. Neuroscience is believed to hold out the hope of an advanced understanding of when and why this is the case.


Constrained maximization Evolutionary biology Natural selection Neuroscience 

JEL Classification

A12 B25 B52 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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