The integration of cross-disciplinary research in neuroscience and social science ? a methodological case study on economic policies and the neuroscience of agency


Economics is increasingly integrated with psychology and neuroscience, and new approaches to the design of economic policies make substantial use of such integrations. Notwithstanding, a coherent and systematic theoretical framework for the usefulness of psychology and neuroscience for economic policy does not exist at this point. We aim at clarifying the methodological and philosophical foundations for integrating economics and the neurosciences and explore the implications for policy design. We argue that a useful framework can be based on the model of mechanistic constitutive explanations. We focus on three fields in which theory integrations have played a role for behavioural policies to exemplify our theory: financial markets, welfare policy, and addiction treatment and prevention policy. In order support the plausibility of our model from a metaphysical point of view, we see a necessity to study multi-level ontologies and the connection of agency and free will. Our research method focuses on the context of discovery of scientific research, taking into account the heuristic and cognitive value of research practices and explanatory strategies. Two of our research groups will focus on the case studies mentioned above whilst the third group will analyse the ontological and metaphysical background assumptions of these cross-disciplinary interactions. Our overall results will be relevant for policy makers as well as scientists connecting neuroscience and economics.


economic policy, neuroscience of agency, method of scientific integration, metaphysics of agency, mechanistic explanation, Neuromarketing, economic policies

Call topic

ELSA of Neuroscience

Proposed runtime

2016 - 2019

Project team

Jens Harbecke (Coordinator)
Germany (BMBF)
Jaakko Kuorikoski
Finland (AKA)
Bernard Feltz
Belgium (FNRS)