Read While You Wait - Get immediate ebook access, if available*, when you order a print book

Virtues and Economics
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Agency and Causal Explanation in Economics

Editors: Róna, Peter, Zsolnai, László (Eds.)

Free Preview
  • Open Access publication
  • Provides an exploration of the consequences of the ontological differences between natural and social objects
  • Examines theories historically offered with respect to social causation and agency and proposes and defends some alternatives
  • Stipulates the fundamental differences in causality in nature as compared to social life with particular regard to economics
  • Examines the nature of causation and agency in social life
see more benefits

Buy this book

  • ISBN 978-3-030-26114-6
  • This book is an open access book, you can download it for free on
Hardcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
Softcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
About this book

This open access book provides an exploration of the consequences of the ontological differences between natural and social objects (sometimes described as objects of nature and objects of thought) in the workings of causal and agency relationships. One of its important and possibly original conclusions is that causal and agency relationships do not encompass all of the dependent relationships encountered in social life. The idea that social reality is contingent has been known (and largely undisputed) at least since Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty”, but social science, and most notably economics has continued to operate on the basis of causal and agency theories borrowed or adapted from the natural sciences. This volume contains essays that retain and justify the partial or qualified use of this approach and essays that totally reject any use of causal and agency theory built on determined facts (closed systems).The rejection is based on the possibly original claim that, whereas causation in the objects of the natural sciences reside in their properties, human action is a matter of intentionality. It engages with critical realist theory and re-examines the role of free will in theories of human action in general and economic theory in particular.

About the authors

Peter Róna was born in Hungary in 1942. He emigrated to the United States in 1956, obtained his B.A. degree in economic history (cum laude) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, and his law degree from Oxford University (First Class) in 1964. He was an associate of the Washington, D.C, law firm, Arnold & Porter and counsel to the US Department of Commerce before becoming the personal assistant of Lord Richardson, Governor of the Bank of England. He joined the Schroder Group in 1969 as the General Counsel of its operations in the United Sates, and became the President and Chief Executive of the IBJ Schroder Bank & Trust co. in 1985. Shortly after the collapse of the Berlin Wall he returned to Hungary, where he managed an investment fund. In 2003 he joined the faculty of Eötvös Lóránd University where he taught public international law. In 2006 he was made an Honorary Professor of the University.
He joined the teaching staff of Blackfriars Hall in 2009, where he teaches an introductory course in economics and a more advanced one on the philosophical foundations of the social sciences. His published articles include a study of the Euro and an examination of the philosophical foundations of economics.

László Zsolnai is professor and director of the Business Ethics Center at the Corvinus  University of Budapest. He is chairman of the Business Ethics Faculty Group of the CEMS (Community of European Management Schools−The Global Alliance in Management Education). He is president of  the European SPES Institute in Leuven, Belgium. He has been guest professor or visiting scholar at University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of California at Berkeley, Georgetown University, University of Richmond, Concordia University Montreal, University of St. Gallen, Bocconi University Milan, and Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. Laszlo Zsolnai’s books include "The Collaborative Enterprise: Creating Values for a Sustainable World" (2010. Oxford, UK: Peter Lang Academic Publishers), „The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business” (2011. Houndmills, UK, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan), „Beyond Self: Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Economics” (2014. Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford), and „The Spiritual Dimension of Business Ethics and Sustainability Management” (2015, Springer). 

Table of contents (10 chapters)

Table of contents (10 chapters)
  • Free Will & Empirical Arguments for Epiphenomenalism

    Pages 3-20

    Elzein, Nadine

  • Causality, Agency and Change

    Pages 21-35

    Pratten, Stephen

  • How Economics Becomes Ideology: The Uses and Abuses of Rational Choice Theory

    Pages 37-52

    Blakely, Jason

  • Economics, Agency, and Causal Explanation

    Pages 53-67

    Child, William

  • Causation and Agency

    Pages 69-89

    Róna, Peter

Buy this book

  • ISBN 978-3-030-26114-6
  • This book is an open access book, you can download it for free on
Hardcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
Softcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)

Recommended for you


Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Agency and Causal Explanation in Economics
  • Peter Róna
  • László Zsolnai
Series Title
Virtues and Economics
Series Volume
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
Hardcover ISBN
Softcover ISBN
Series ISSN
Edition Number
Number of Pages
XV, 171
Number of Illustrations
2 b/w illustrations

*immediately available upon purchase as print book shipments may be delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis. ebook access is temporary and does not include ownership of the ebook. Only valid for books with an ebook version. Springer Reference Works and instructor copies are not included.