Synopses & Reviews
The principal findings of experimental economics are that impersonal exchange in markets converges in repeated interaction to the equilibrium states implied by economic theory, under information conditions far weaker than specified in the theory. In personal, social, and economic exchange, as studied in two-person games, cooperation exceeds the prediction of traditional game theory. This book relates these two findings to field studies and applications and integrates them with the main themes of the Scottish Enlightenment and with the thoughts of F. A. Hayek.
'The journey that brought Vernon Smith to his Nobel Prize is not over. It obviously brought us constructive tools, in the form of controlled experimental methods that allow economists to see the lay of the behavioral land more clearly than before. But this magisterial review of the whole journey, including precursors, reminds us that the scope of economics has always been much wider than the straw man that behaviorists like to attack. Properly understood, experimental methods force all economists to think of constructivist and ecological rationality as complementary ways of understanding behavior, rather than as fundamentally inconsistent views of behavior. The journey, then, has really just begun.' Glenn W. Harrison, College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida
'Vernon Smith has spent a lifetime of research, combining theory and experimental evidence, exploring the idea and implications of rationality in economics. This book recounts that lifetime, synthesizes it and adds to it - producing a volume that soars above the usual material of economics. The end-product is a volume that takes an eagle's eye view of rationality in economics, and puts it in a new and glorious perspective. Reading it is essential for theorists and practitioners.' John D. Hey, University of York, UK and LUISS, Italy
'Rationality in Economics is a delight, garnished with fascinating historical detail, philosophical scientific insights, and an eye on current public policy issues. Vernon Smith, as always, shows a skeptical, irreverent attitude toward 'rationality models' based on assumptions that are not stress-tested with cash-motivated subjects in the lab. His own policy recommendations, like the 'Combinatorial Clock Auction', are original and innovative.' Charles Holt, University of Virginia
'Locating human sociality as a centerpiece of economics, Smith's clear vision of the meaning of rationality pierces the fog surrounding the place of economics in human society. Ideas of David Hume, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek and Herbert Simon are masterfully synthesized with fifty years of experimental data from the economics laboratory to bring us a book that might as well be called 'The Origin of Human Institutions'.' Shyam Sunder, School of Management, Yale University
'I am pleased to report that Vernon Smith's new volume of opinions amounts to the most important book on economic methodology of the past decade.' Journal of Economics and Philosophy
'... a rich book that is full of stimulating ideas ...' History of Economic Ideas
This book explores constructivist and ecological approaches to rationality in economics.
This book constitutes an empirical behavioral challenge to traditional economic and game theory. Using constructivist and ecological approaches, Vernon L. Smith, a 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, provides a new perspective based on experimental science that considers the work of F. A. Hayek and the classical liberal tradition. In so doing, the author opens positive new directions for scholarly research and applications in experimental economics methodology.
About the Author
Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2002 for having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms. He holds joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the School of Law at Chapman University, California, where he also is part of the team that will create and run the Economic Science Institute there. Cambridge University Press published his Papers in Experimental Economics in 1991 and a second collection, Bargaining and Market Behavior, in 2000.
Table of Contents
Part I. Rationality, Markets, and Institutions: 1. Rediscovering the Scottish philosophers; 2. On two forms of rationality; Part II. Impersonal Exchange: The Extended Order of the Market: 3. Relating the two concepts of a rational order; 4. Market institutions and performance; 5. Asymmetric information and equilibrium without process; 6. Spectrum auctions and combinatorial designs: theory and experiment; 7. Psychology and markets; 8. What is rationality?; Part III. Personal Social Exchange: 9. Emergent order without the law; 10. The effects of context on behavior; Appendix: behavioral deviation from prediction: error, confusion, or evidence of brain function?; 11. Investment trust games: effects of gains from exchange in dictator giving; 12. Reciprocity in trust games; Part IV. Order and Rationality in Method and Mind: 13. Rationality in science; 14. Neuroeconomics: the internal order of the mind; 15. A summary.