I’m studying economics for the first time this semester. I suppose I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me this long, but better late than never. Our text is specifically about micro-economics and public finance.
Reading the introductory material, I can’t help but notice (clearly, in print) something that I’ve suspected for a long time: economists think that people are robots. With the caveat that I’ve only read three chapters of this textbook, so far it seems to me that all of the economic theory (Pareto efficiency, welfare economics, etc) depends rather strongly on people being good little rational choice-making utility maximizers.
Thing is, I don’t feel like a mechanically rational utility maximizer, and I don’t think anyone else really is, either. Can someone who’s studied more of this than I have point me to some readings in one of the following two categories?
- An economist making reassuring noises that, yes, these things are only models, and as a result they’re only abstractions and approximations, and only a very shallow thinkier would take all of this perfectly literally.
- A serious thinker making a critique of rational choice and utility maximization as the underpinnings of (micro-)economics.
Thanks, smart people of the Internet!