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Endogenous Preferences and the Consequences of Economic Incentives

Workshop by the YSI Behavior and Society Group

Oct 5–7, 2018 Download .ics

New York | INET

Young scholars in the fields of behavioral and experimental economics, philosophy, and related disciplines will be given the opportunity to present their work at a workshop in New York. Samuel Bowles (Santa Fe Institute), Shaun Hargreaves Heap (King’s College London) and Mario Rizzo (New York University) will also present their work and give feedback to the young scholars.

Young scholars in the fields of behavioral and experimental economics, philosophy, and related disciplines will be given the opportunity to present their work at a workshop in New York. Samuel Bowles (Santa Fe Institute), Shaun Hargreaves Heap (King’s College London) and Mario Rizzo (New York University) will also present their work and give feedback to the young scholars. 

Please apply with a short letter of motivation (ca. one page) and an extended abstract (ca. two pages) of the work that you would like to present. It is not a necessary condition for participation to present during the workshop, though we do encourage it. We will circulate a digital reader with selected readings on the subject in advance. This shall give everybody a solid foundation for the discussions. 

The deadline is August 26. We can offer travel grants for young scholars from overseas up to the amount of $500 per person, and for domestic scholars up to the amount of $300 per person.

Our working group supports diversity in economics and welcomes applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, or sexual orientation. 

Background: In the last decade, a lively debate has arisen about the moral limits of markets. Books by Michael Sandel (What Money Can’t Buy, 2012) and Debra Satz (Why Some Things Should Not be for Sale, 2010) have sparked public discussions beyond academic circles. An often-overlooked issue in this debate is a methodological question: do economists have the right models to explain the philosophers’ observation that there is a reflexive relationship between economic incentives and individual preferences? 

Traditionally, economists assume that markets satisfy the given, stable preferences of consumers. However, if one looks at the discussion about the moral limits of markets then one gets the impression that markets – or more generally-speaking economic incentives – also influence or shape consumer preferences. John Kenneth Galbraith described this phenomenon decades ago as the “dependence effect”. On this account, preferences are not only satisfied by markets but created by the process by which they are satisfied. Friedrich von Hayek responded to Galbraith a few years later and suggested that the dependence effect would not undermine the moral power of markets, but rather be a virtue of the latter. Based on experimental findings, a more fine-grained debate has emerged in recent years about how far markets drive out or enhance intrinsic motivation and prosocial preferences (see, e.g., Samuel Bowles, The Moral Economy, 2016). The workshop will be an opportunity to discuss the methodological and normative implications of this ongoing debate in an open and constructive atmosphere. 

Event location

300 Park Avenue South, 5th floor