Economic reality : the ontology of money and other economic phenomena
The contemporary academic disciplines of Philosophy and Economics by and large do not concern themselves with questions pertaining to the ontology of economic reality; by economic reality I mean the kinds of economic phenomena that people encounter on a daily basis, the central ones being economic transactions, money, prices, goods and services. Economic phenomena also include other aspects of economic reality such as economic agents, (including corporations, individual producers and consumers), commodity markets, banks, investments, jobs and production. My investigation of the ontology of economic phenomena begins with a critical examination of the accounts of theorists and philosophers from the past, including Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Marx, Simmel and Menger. Here I discuss various themes that have emerged from these writings, including the metallism-chartalism debates and whether economic value is an objective or subjective notion. Then I turn to contemporary philosophers, such as Searle, Bloor and Collin, who have used money as an example in their accounts of social phenomena. I argue that their accounts fail for a number of reasons, including that they cannot accommodate abstract money (money that is not in the form of notes, coins or commodities). Based on a much modified and expanded version of Hadreas' speech act theory of money, I develop an analysis of exchange into reciprocal, conditional promissory relations and I provide a diachronic account of how money developed out of such promissory relations. I then go on to examine how my account can be applied to money in all its forms and to the development of economic systems and production and I show how it is possible to overcome an epistemological difficulty with respect to how neophytes learn about economic phenomena.