The Identity of the economic Agent (What is an ‘economic agent’ ? Who is ‘the’ economic agent ?)

Between Eastern and Western values, that of « self-realization and identity » is worth questioning regarding the nature and identity of the economic Agent, inasmuch as the methodology known in economics as ‘Methodological individualism’ and social complexity interact.

Standard methodological individualism is based on two pillars: the autonomy of the individual and the theory of the unintended consequences of human action. French philosopher Jean-Pierre Dupuy calls “complex methodological individualism” an approach that emerges from both standard methodological individualism and the theory of complex systems, adapted to the social world regarded as a complex self-organized system.

The individual is autonomous, but his/her rationality is limited by social complexity and his/her actions are influenced by structural constraints related to a recursive loop between individual and systemic emergent properties that are unintentionally implied by human actions and related to the logic of complexity.

Whereas Dupuy’s proposal of ‘complex methodological individualism’ is recent, origins of such approach are to be traced to the works (we shall use) of economists/philosophers such as Adam Smith, Carl Menger and Friedrich Hayek.

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