SOAS University of London

Bang Goes Homo Economicus: Terrorists, Economists, Rational Fools

Chris Cramer
Professor Christopher Cramer

Date: 12 May 2009Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 12 May 2009Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Inaugural Lecture

Can social scientists understand terrorism, particularly its suicidal variant? Or is terrorism “irrationally abstract” and are we in fact “not dealing in reasons because we are not dealing in reason”, as one commentator put it? Economists have claimed that terrorism not only makes sense but can be explained by applying the assumptions, models and techniques of rational choice, methodologically individualist, neo-classical economics. This lecture explores economic explanations of terrorism and what they reveal about the development of economic theory. The lecture asks whether theoretical adaptations enable economics to be the foundation of social science or whether economic explanations of terrorism instead explode the pretensions of neo-classical theory and leave the way open for a richer social science.

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