Anti-Perfectist perspectives in political economy: the public dimension

Stefano Solari (Padova)


Organized session in “Philosophy of Law and Economics”

The Anti-Perfectist is a philosophical perspective conjugating the view of man as an imperfect and non-self-sufficient being and the scientific epistemology based on imperfect knowledge. From the epistemological perspective, it has roots in Socrates and, more recently, in the post- empiricism of Giovambattista Vico, up to Pragmatism and cognitive constructivism. From the anthropological perspective, it is a philosophical tradition based on the awareness of the constitutive dependency of individual performance and fulfillment of man from his interaction with others. It is conceived in opposition to the individualism and perfect rationality of the majority of social theories. The paper analyses both the philosophical and the epistemological premises of Anti-Perfectism as well as its consequences in terms of economic methodology. In this part it will focus particularly on the Continental understanding of empiricism as in the case of Giovambattista Vico and in the post-Enlightenment anthropology of Antonio Rosmini. It will be argued how, in sight of studying micro-economic processes, this epistemology supports contemporary developments of symbolic interactionism and the hermeneutical approach to economics. In a second part of the paper, some economic theories emerging from the Austrian milieu are analysed in as much they embody this epistemology. In particular, the consequences of the central role of knowledge in economic processes is discussed in the case of Löwe and Schütz. How much Anti-Perfectist philosophy implies a demise (or not) of the role of collective action in favour of free markets is studied in relation of Italian liberalism.

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