Working paper 3/2018

Shackle: an enquirer into choice

Marina BianchiSergio Nisticò
Dipartimento di Economia e Giurisprudenza, Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale

September, 2018

Abstract: Despite the several attempts to rework Shackle’s ideas using alternative non-mainstream approaches, Shackle was and has remained an outsider in the economic discipline. Shackle, however, is not a man alone if we take seriously what he thought of economics, as a discipline concerned with a subject that is not self-contained but open-ended and impermanent. Starting from an assessment of Schackle’s understanding of choice as creative, an uncaused cause that happens in a present in which the future must be imagined and for which the past provides no satisfyingly complete anticipations, the paper argues that Shackle should be rescued from the role of a nihilist where he is often relegated. In this perspective, a fundamental key to assessing the richness, originality and anticipatory character of Shackle’s contribution can be found in the recent developments of several “friendly” disciplines such as the psychology of motivations and of self-rewarding actions, narrative as the “science’ of the possible and the role of calendar time in choice theory. In fact, all these novel re-thinkings can contribute and to the understanding of Shackle’s main point, that human (and therefore economic) agents are active, creative enterprisers, who cut the deterministic thread by injecting the new in history to come, in making a difference in the future courses of action.

JEL codes: B31; D81; D91

Keywords: Shackle; Choice; Imagination; Time

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