Neuroeconomics has found no definitive role in the explanation of consumer choice and its undeveloped philosophical basis limits its attempt to explain economic behaviour. The nature of neuroeconomics is explored, especially with respect to what it reveals about the valuation of alternatives, choice and emotion. The tendency of human consumers to discount future rewards illustrates how behavioural and neuroscientific accounts of choice contribute to psychological explanations of choice and the issues this raises for both routine everyday choices and more extreme compulsions. Central to this is the phenomenon of matching in which consumers tend to select the immediately larger or largest reward and the neurophysiological and behavioural bases of this choice. Recognition that rewards are evoked by reinforcement contingencies and that the rewards themselves engender emotional responses via classical conditioning enhances understanding the contribution of neurological activity to the explanation of consumer behaviour. It is argued that neuroeconomics can play a vital explanatory role by providing an evolutionarily consistent warrant for the ascription of intentionality. The Behavioural Perspective Model is used as a template for investigations of consumer choice that lead to iterative theoretical development, forming the basis of a neurophilosophy in which neuroeconomics can find a decisive role.
Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.