Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Theory

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Nadine Elzein
      Pages 3-20 Open Access
    3. Stephen Pratten
      Pages 21-35 Open Access
    4. William Child
      Pages 53-67 Open Access
    5. Peter Róna
      Pages 69-89 Open Access
  3. Praxis

  4. Back Matter
    Pages 169-171

About this book


This open access book provides an exploration of the consequences of the ontological differences between natural and social objects (sometimes described as objects of nature and objects of thought) in the workings of causal and agency relationships. One of its important and possibly original conclusions is that causal and agency relationships do not encompass all of the dependent relationships encountered in social life. The idea that social reality is contingent has been known (and largely undisputed) at least since Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty”, but social science, and most notably economics has continued to operate on the basis of causal and agency theories borrowed or adapted from the natural sciences. This volume contains essays that retain and justify the partial or qualified use of this approach and essays that totally reject any use of causal and agency theory built on determined facts (closed systems).The rejection is based on the possibly original claim that, whereas causation in the objects of the natural sciences reside in their properties, human action is a matter of intentionality. It engages with critical realist theory and re-examines the role of free will in theories of human action in general and economic theory in particular.


Open Access Uses and Abuses of Rational Choice Theory Argument from social and economic anthropology Free Will & Empirical Arguments for Epiphenomenalism Critical Realism’s explanatory approach Predictable Human Economic Behaviour Stoic Economics Agency and Causation in Marx Consequences of the ontological differences Workings of causal and agency relationships Critical realist theory Ontological differences between natural and social objects Social causation and agency Causality in nature as compared to social life Nature of causation and agency in social life Ontological difference between physical and social reality

Editors and affiliations

  • Peter Róna
    • 1
  • László Zsolnai
    • 2
  1. 1.Blackfriars HallUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Business Ethics CenterCorvinus University of BudapestBudapestHungary

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020
  • License CC BY
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-26113-9
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-26114-6
  • Series Print ISSN 2520-1794
  • Series Online ISSN 2520-1808
  • Buy this book on publisher's site