The Integration of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Neuroscience and Social Science

Our Project

The INSOSCI was a research project that started in March 2016 and ended in April 2019. Its full title was: The Integration of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Neuroscience and Social Science – a Methodological Study on Economic Policies and the Neurosciences of Agency. The project was funded by the European Commission with researchers at Witten/Herdecke University (Germany), Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt (Germany), University of Tampere (Finland), University of Applied Sciences Brandenburg (Germany), Catholic university of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), and University of Leuven (Belgium). We decided to maintain the project website for all those who might be interested in the contributions to our project blog and the list of project publications. Please feel free to contact us should you have further questions.

Our Vision

The aim of this project was 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.

Our Mission

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. The INSOSCI project aimed at deploying 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 aimed at drafting conceptual maps of this complex territory that allow for identifying effective points and ways of policy interventions.

The team consisted of philosophers, economists and neuroscientists from Belgium, Finland and Germany who worked on three subprojects: financial markets and their regulation; consumer and welfare policies; free will and ethical implications. We pursed the cross-linkages across the sub-projects, such as conceptions of rationality of consumer behaviour in general and financial markets in particular, and the possible relevance of phenomena such as addiction across the different domains.

Recent Posts

Addendum: Evolutionary thinking in current neuroeconomics


Before I deal with the question of how to connect internal and external evolutionary mechanisms, I want to show that evolutionary thinking is already emerging in current neuroeconomics. This relates to the strand of research that builds on neural networks to explain choice. The standard approach in neuroeconomics starts out from the idea of a…


Evolutionary mechanisms


To my best knowledge, neuroeconomists never refer to Friedrich Hayek as founder of their discipline. But he should be included at least in the list of the most important intellectual progenitors. His 1952 book ‘The Sensory Order’ is a highly abstract philosophy of the brain, came surprisingly close to Hebb’s emerging paradigm of connectionism, and…

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