This book presents a history of behavioral economics. The recurring theme is that behavioral economics reflects and contributes to a fundamental reorientation of the epistemological foundations upon which economics had been based since the days of Smith, Ricardo, and Mill.
With behavioral economics, the discipline has shifted from grounding its theories in generalized characterizations to building theories from behavioral assumptions directly amenable to empirical validation and refutation. The book proceeds chronologically and takes the reader from von Neumann and Morgenstern's axioms of rational behavior, through the incorporation of rational decision theory in psychology in the 1950s-1970s, and to the creation and rise of behavioral economics in the 1980s and 1990s at the Sloan and Russell Sage Foundations.
Goodwin, general editor for the Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics series, is an economics professor emeritus who has served as teacher and administrator at Duke since 1962. He has taught both graduate and undergraduate students on courses covering the history of economic thought and policy, macroeconomics and microeconomics.