A historical note on the original meaning of metaeconomics
This is a brief note on the original meaning of the term “metaeconomics” that was coined in 1936, in Vienna, by the mathematician Karl Menger. He was involved in the Viennese debate on the relation between mathematics and logics. As he was a strong supporter of Hilbert’s program, he applied it to social sciences (economics and ethics in particular) in order to find their logical structure. From the point of view of the history of economic theory, Hilbertism was the philosophical framework of the following economic mainstream, i.e. the neoclassical approach. In neoclassical economic theory, there is no place for moral considerations and ethics remained strictly separated from economics. Contemporary behavioural economics considers metaeconomics as a tool for re-embedding ethics into economics, this is an example of the so-called “heterogenesis of the aims”.
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