The Economic Cultures of Fear and Love

Journal of Philosophical Economics (2024)
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Abstract

In earlier work, the author has studied the economic role of planning horizons in making a case for complementarity as the predominant feature of social interdependence. This paper compares the different choice strategies implied by substitution, opposition and conflicts of interest in an economics of fear with those arising from horizon effects, economic complementarity and concerts of interest in an economics based on love. The contrasting implications of a psychological literature on negative vs. positive emotions and their health effects, along with the findings in neurophysiological research about how humans are hard-wired for empathy and compassion leads to some fundamental changes in how we might address and revise social problems through economic analysis. The aim of this paper is to extend a horizonal case for complementarity in the author's previous work into its psychological links to research findings on healthy cognitive function and its emotional basis. An economics of substitution yields quite different conclusions about optimal institutional forms and how we address and frame social relations than are implied by an explicitly horizonal economics of complementary social relations. Recent psychological and neurophysiological studies support a horizonal case for complementarity in social relations, showing that our orthodox substitution assumptions and models of competitive equilibrium should be rejected for a renewed economic analysis based on horizonal models of complementarity and cooperation as a means to achieve greater social well-being in a healthier and more integrative form of social organization. The issues to be explored are not entertained within the currently existing frame of orthodox economics, so we must step beyond our standard habitual assumptions.

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