By John Dobson
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Within the discipline this rationality concept is never questioned, and has indeed become the theory-of-the-firm's sine qua non. Beyond the monastic cloisters of financial economics, however, it is generally recognized that there is no single 'right' concept of rationality. Within the human milieu there are rationalities rather than rationality. This book proposes an alternative rationality premise for financial economics, a premise that is broader and more morally inclusive than the existing 'wealth-maximization' paradigm.
This new wave of behavioral financial theory, as opposed to strictly technical finance, places human beliefs and motivations at center stage. Questions of psychology and philosophy, such as, What motivates individuals? and, What should motivate individuals? are rapidly becoming relevantindeed, are becoming unavoidablein finance. Far from an oxymoron, therefore, a congruence of finance and ethics is becoming increasingly clear as an inevitable consequence of financial theory's broadened conceptual stance.
Second, arguments have been made to the effect that the descriptive accuracy of economic rationality is inseparable from its prescriptive desirability. Agents change their behavior when confronted with role models or assumptions about how other agents behave. " Financial ethics is born. But in general discourse, the term 'financial ethics' often evokes wry smiles and chuckles. " will often be the sardonic retort. Such cynicism is perhaps not surprising in light of the continual scandals that have rocked both domestic and overseas financial markets in recent years, not to mention the questionable practices of many business organizations and the (handsomely remunerated) executives therein.