Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here? (N217-11).
Revue De Philosophie Economique, 12 (2).
Hope plays an important role in all individuals’ lives both today and in the future. While
hope and hopelessness are important concepts and the subjects of much theorizing in
psychology, theology, philosophy, political science, nursing, as well as in literature and the
arts, it is absent from economics. This silence on hope is notable since hope is fundamentally
at the centre of choice, especially intertemporal choice, which is at the centre of economic
analysis. To place hope at the centre of intertemporal choice, it is important to clearly define
what hope is and what it is not. What hope is not is constant. Hope is not optimism; hope is
not unfounded dreams divorced from reality; hope is not irrational. I distil what hope is from
its characterization in a number of different disciplines. A comparison of characterizations
identifies a number of commonalities and common definitions. Using the derived set of
definitions, I incorporate hope into economic analysis, consider what implications hope has
for the modelling of choice and for economic behaviour, and discuss whether hope is
implicitly imbedded in or has been abandoned, to our eternal cost, by economics.
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