PhD thesis defence: Dorian Jullien, June 8th, 2016

On June 8th, Dorian Jullien (Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France) publicly defended his PhD thesis entitled A methodological perspective on behavioral economics and the role of language in economic rationality (in English) in Nice (France). You can access the full manuscript here.


Richard Arena (supervisor), Professor, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis
Wade Hands (referee), Professor, University of Puget Sound
Annie Cot (referee), Professor, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Matthias Klaes, Professor, University of Dundee
Guillaume Hollard, CNRS Research supervisor, Ecole Polytechnique
Agnès Festré, Professor, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis
Christian Hudelot, CNRS Research supervisor and, Directeur de recherche au CNRS and Professor Emeritus, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis


In this dissertation, we propose a methodological perspective on the twofold role of language in economic rationality, economists’ uses of language to theorize it and economic agent’s uses of language to express it, can clarify three main issues (and their connections), underlying the behavioral versus standard economics debates: the issue of the theoretical unification regarding the three dimensions of economic rationality, the issue of interdisciplinarity between economics and Psychology and the positive/normative issue within models of individual behaviors. Regarding the positive/normative issue and the role of language in the behaviors of economic agents, the intention is to provide a constructive criticism of contributions from behavioral as well as standard economists. Following the entanglement thesis of philosopher Hilary Putnam and philosophers-economists Vivian Walsh and Amartya Sen, it is argued that both standard and behavioral economists propose an unsatisfying articulation between the positive and normative dimensions of models of individual behaviors; and that recognizing the entanglement of facts, values and conventions can actually be theoretically and empirically fruitful. Paying some attention to the role of language in the behaviors of economic agents may sometimes show that a seemingly irrational behavior can in fact be defended as rational; hence we argue that, and show how, the implicit axiom — known as ‘description invariance’ — in standard models of individual behaviors preventing the influence of language needs to be weakened (though not dropped entirely), contrary to the positions of most behavioral and standard economists.


Dorian Jullien notably published an article entitled “A probabilistic ghost in the experimental machine” (with Nicolas Vallois) in the Journal of Economic Methodology.

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