Human Now versus Human Over Time. When Instrumental Rationality and Utility are not Enough

  • Aleksander Ostapiuk Wroclaw University of Economics, Poland


The goal of this article is to show that instrumental rationality and utility that have been used in economics for many years does not work well. What is presented in the article is how significant the influence of utilitarianism has been on economics and why the economists get rid of humans’ goals and motivations. It is shown in the article that the human who decides in present is absolutely different from the human who decides over time. Many economists neglected this problem because they wanted to have an effective and simple model. Becker’s economic method is presented as a dead end to which economics has been brought to. It is impossible to connect different selves of one human being by using the utility measure. The works of Schelling and J.S. Mill are used to explain this impossibility. The conclusion of this article is that instrumental rationality and utility have affected economics significantly. But, this simplified view on human nature is no longer valid. Hence, economics needs to think not only about the means but also about the human goals. Economics needs to rebuff relativism and show people how to achieve well-being. If we want to help people with their self-governance, we will have to choose reason over emotions.

Key words: Instrumental rationality, Utilitarianism, Choice over time, Multiple selves, Wellbeing.
JEL: B00, B4, B5, D91.


How to Cite
Ostapiuk A. (2018). Human Now versus Human Over Time. When Instrumental Rationality and Utility are not Enough. Panoeconomicus, Advance online publication. doi:10.2298/PAN161203026O
Original scientific paper