Identity problems

An interview with John B. Davis


  • John B. Davis Marquette University, United States, and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands



John Davis, interview, history, methodology, economics, philosophy, practice, heterodox, Keynes, individuals, agents, identity


In this interview, Professor Davis discusses the evolution of his career and research interests as a philosopher-economist and gives his perspective on a number of important issues in the field. He argues that historians and methodologists of economics should be engaged in the practice of economics, and that historians should be more open to philosophical analysis of the content of economic ideas. He suggests that the history of recent economics is a particularly fruitful and important area for research exactly because it is an open-ended story that is very relevant to understanding the underlying concerns and concepts of contemporary economics. He discusses his engagement with heterodox economics schools, and their engagement with a rapidly changing mainstream economics. He argues that the theory of the individual is “the central philosophical issue in economics” and discusses his extensive contributions to the issue.

Author Biography

John B. Davis, Marquette University, United States, and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

John B. Davis is professor of economics at Marquette University (USA) and professor of the history and philosophy of economics at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). He holds PhDs in both philosophy (1983, University of Illinois; under the supervision of Richard Schacht) and economics (1985, Michigan State University; under the supervision of John P. Henderson and Warren J. Samuels).

He has published on many areas in the philosophy, history, ethics, and methodology of economics. His published monographs include Keynes’s philosophical development (Cambridge, 1994); The theory of the individual in economics (Routledge, 2003); and Individuals and identity in economics (Cambridge, 2011). He co-authored Economic methodology: understanding economics as a science (Palgrave, 2010) with Marcel Boumans. In addition to his research on identity and the theory of the individual, he has written extensively on recent changes in economics. He is a past president of the History of Economics Society (HES), the International Network for Economic Method (INEM), and the Association for Social Economics (ASE), and past vice-president of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (ESHET). He is a past editor of the Review of Social Economy, and is currently co-editor with D. Wade Hands of the Journal of Economic Methodology.




How to Cite

Davis, J. B. (2012). Identity problems: An interview with John B. Davis. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 5(2), 81–103.