The 2020-21 Mark Blaug Prize in Philosophy and Economics has been awarded to Malte Dold and Alexa Stanton (Pomona College) for their paper, “I Choose for Myself, Therefore I Am: The Contours of Existentialist Behavioral Economics“.
The Blaug Prize is awarded by the Erasmas Journal for Philosophy and Economics (EJPE) and is intended to promote and reward the work of junior scholars in philosophy and economics. The prize is named for Mark Blaug (1927–2011), a founder of the field of philosophy and economics. The prize includes a cash sum of 500 Euros.
Malte Dodd is an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Pomona College in California. Previously, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at New York University. He holds a master’s degree in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Bayreuth, and received his PhD in Economics from the University of Freiburg. Alexa Stanton graduated from Pomona College magna cum laude in 2020, with a major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), and a minor in Computer Science. Here’s the abstract of their winning paper:
Behavioral economics and existentialism both present informative perspectives on human choice. We argue in this article that the dialogue between the two approaches can enrich the current debate about the normative implications of behavioral economics. While behavioral economics suggests that our capacity to choose is constrained by cognitive biases and environmental influences, existentialism emphasizes that we can (and should) treat ourselves as free and ‘becoming’ beings in spite of the many constraints we face. Acknowledging these two perspectives in the form of a theoretical synthesis—which we propose to call existentialist behavioral economics—provides us with reasons why we should protect our choices ‘as our own’ and how doing so may be more difficult than we anticipate. It also provides a framework to analyze the threat of identity-shaping social and technological developments, such as preference-altering nudges and artificially intelligent prediction algorithms.
You can learn more about the prize and see a list of its previous winners here.