INSOSCI – research on the foundations of theory integration between economics, psychology, and neuroscience Full Title:
The Integration of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Neuroscience and Social Science – a Methodological Study on Economic Policies and the Neurosciences of Agency; funded by the European Commission with researchers at Witten/Herdecke University (Germany), Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt (Germany), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of Applied Sciences Brandenburg (Germany), University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), and University of Leuven (Belgium).
We want to clarify the methodological and philosophical foundations of a successful integration of economics, psychology, and the neurosciences, and we want to explore the implications of such an integration for policy making.
Economics is being revolutionized by newly emerging disciplines such as behavioural economics or neuroeconomics. This has also inspired new approaches to economic policy, e.g. ‘nudging’ citizens towards behaviour deemed to be in their best interest. However, at the same time these developments are being seriously criticised within established economics, often for good reasons. On closer scrutiny, methodological and philosophical issues loom large: What is a powerful economic explanation? How can economics be integrated with other sciences, such as psychology? Are there reliable empirical methods for testing hypotheses that are recognized across the various disciplines? And so forth.
There is great risk that well-intended public policies may do harm and fail if they are based on research that is methodologically flawed. Our project aims at deploying most advanced approaches in the philosophy of science in order to clear up these methodological debates and to develop a conceptual framework for integrating the neurosciences and economics, in particular. As a result, we hope to be able to draft conceptual maps of this complex territory that allow for identifying effective points and ways of policy interventions.
We are a team of philosophers, economists and neuroscientists from Belgium, Finland and Germany who work on three subprojects: financial markets and their regulation; consumer and welfare policies; free will and ethical implications. We actively pursue the cross-linkages across the sub-projects, such as conceptions of rationality of consumer behaviour in general and financial markets in particular, or the possible relevance of phenomena such as addiction across the different domains.