0 votes
asked ago in General Economics Questions by (120 points)
Microeconomics sees only wealth, self-interest, and the market, resulting in extreme inequality, low economic performance, and inefficiency. Metaeconomics means to "transcend, transform" and otherwise go beyond just the self-interest of Microeconomics.  Metaeconomics  builds on Adam Smith, who saw the need to balance the wealth&sentiments, ego&empathy-based ethics, self&other(shared, internalized)-interest, market&government.  Each was deemed essential to the other.  In order to maximize the own-interest, as Adam Smith made clear, it was essential to balance the joint, nonseparable, absolutely interdependent self&other-interest.   New book is now available:  Metaeconomics:  Tempering Excessive Greed.(Google It; Try It; You might like it!).
commented ago by (100 points)
I find this idea extremely interesting, and I would first like to thank you for arising my interest in it, as I spent about an hour scrolling through your website, learning about the field of metaeconomics. But as much as I enjoyed the learning process, I feel that while microeconomics is based on self-interest, a majority of human decisions could be argued to be in self interest. As such, I feel that microeconomics does a better job at encompassing metaeconomics, as opposed to being a supplement.  The classic example would be charity, where we selflessly donate money in an act of reasonability. But we don't simply like our money disappearing. Because we know it's going to a good cause, we get marginal benefit that we deem to be higher than anything else we could use our money for. Because we mostly use made up and unquantifiable numbers in analyzing marginal benefit, it's no stretch to say that such a concept is covered in microeconomics. Obviously, I feel like the explanation I provided is too simple, and you are the foremost expert on the topic in the world, and as such I am most likely wrong. As such, I would really appreciate further explanation as to what sets metaeconomics apart from microeconomics, beyond the broader mission statement. I find this topic super intriguing!
commented ago by (120 points)
edited ago by
Brayden:  Sorry for the late response.  Perhaps the best way to address your comment is to explain where the dual interest theory, at the core of Metaeconomics, came from in the first place.  And, also, to frame this, my background, formal training is in agricultural economics --- which by the  time I did my PhD, had been won over by Chicago School of Economics framing, with my microeconomics instructor/professor at Oregon State having taken his Microeconomics training directly from Milton Friedman!  Yet, ag econ was always, historically, a very applied field, so it put me in touch with lots of farmers and other people in-residence in rural areas.  In particular, I started out with a deep intrigue with what drove soil and water conservation behavior in the farming population.  And, that very first empirical study of that phenomenon, involving a deep survey of real farmers, showed that something was clearly missing from the mainstream economic theory of production economics: I was dismayed with the fact that I could explain only (R-squared of) 15-18% of the variation in farmer behavior when using variables suggested by production (micro)economics!  So, it put me on a near 4-decade long search, with many more surveys, focus groups, and, eventually experimental economics laboratory work.  And, what was the outcome? Well, after I started to include  what we came to call the empathy based other (shared with others, yet internalized within the farmer's own-self)-interest sourced variables, the R-squared's started to increase. And, after 4-decades or so, we were hitting 50-60% R-squareds, not great, but a huge improvement using Metaeconomics as compared to Microeconomics.  We had similar findings in looking at consumer choices regarding recycling behavior.  So, dual interest theory was born.  And, it has been confirmed over and over and over, with lots of other confirmation (in neuroscience, especially in the new neuroeconomics) that real Humans have more than self-interest in their brains.  Also, I need to clarify:  Metaeconomics does not deny the primal role of ego based self-interest. It argues instead that  the ego based self-interest and empathy based other-interest are joint, nonseparable, interdependent.   Think of two overlapping indifference curves in every consumer good space --- one set representing self-interest and the other set representing other-interest. There are also two overlapping sets of isoquants in producer space, again, representing each the self-interest and (shared) other-interest in the outcomes of every production process.  Also, then, because self-interest is more primal, and affecting every choice, Metaeconomics points to the role of the other-interest in tempering the self-interest, dampening the inherent excesses of self-interest (which drives all manner of dysfunction in the economy).   Bottomline: Metaeconomics is based in empirical science.  Dual interest is a better representation of empirical reality about the nature of Human nature.  We are not the Econs --- with only self-interest the driver --- as Microeconomics presumes, generally without empirical confirmation. And, I would challenge any Microeconomist to show me the empirical evidence that only self-interest is at work in the economy, at least in a good and humane economy. As Metaeconomics contends, with strong empirical support, we are Humans.
commented ago by (120 points)
For Endorsements of the Metaeconomics Book, see:  https://tinyurl.com/yse8bw63

Please log in or register to answer this question.