chapter  5
54 Pages

Homo Economicus

Proponents of the narrow view of work incentives who criticise the welfare state for allegedly supporting malingering and scrounging often rest their case on a particular concept of human nature, namely Homo economicus. They argue that one feature derived from this concept is an innate aversion to work (Macarov, 1970: 88). This chapter will investigate the relevance of human nature studies for political philosophy and then introduce the mainstream economists’ view of human nature (Homo economicus). It will be examined what exactly are the main features of Homo economicus and whether they are acceptable as a general depiction of human beings. In the course of this analysis research from the areas of feminist economics and sociobiology as well as earlier philosophy will be brought forward to question the concept. The aim of this chapter is to criticise the work incentives argument by showing that it is not built on solid foundations.