Double bachelor in Economics and Philosophy of Economics

Study programme

In the philosophy programme you will get acquainted with the ideas of great thinkers from the past, from Plato to Marx, from Aristotle to Wittgenstein. In courses on modern philosophy fundamental philosophical and scientific questions will be addressed. What is truth? What is knowledge? What is science? Is democracy the best form of government? We also deal with more concrete ethical issues from a philosophical point of view, for instance: does an alcoholic always deserve a liver transplantation?

In the economics programme you lay the foundation in economics, business economics and quantitative courses in the first two years. Afterwards you can choose from a variety of elective courses and specialisations. We encourage you to explore international perspectives and take classes abroad. Please check the sections about the International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics and the bachelor Economie en Bedrijfseconomie for more specific information on the economics programme.

The first year: laying the foundation for economics

Your first year is divided into five blocks of eight weeks. Each block consists of three courses: one economics course, one course in business economics and one (or more) support course(s) or skills training.

Subjects range from marketing to mathematics, and accounting to organisation and strategy. In separate sessions, led by a student mentor, you will work on your skills in studying, presentation, writing and debating.

The second year: adding introductory philosophy

In addition to the regular economics curriculum, you will follow two introductory philosophy courses in the first ten weeks of the academic year. The first course, The Early Enlightenment, runs from week 36 until 39 with exams in week 40. The second course, The Quest for Man I, will be taught from week 41 until 44, with exams in week 45.

The third year: a mixture of both

In the third year you also follow the regular economics curriculum. On top of that, you attend introductory philosophy courses in the first ten weeks of the academic year. The first course, Essential Contemporary Challenges, runs from week 36 until 39, with exams in week 40. The second course, Thought Experiments, will be taught from week 41 until 44, with exams in week 45. You will also follow the courses Philosophy of Science I and II, and Technology and Social Change, which may count as a minor for the Econometrics programme as well.

The fourth year: advanced philosophy

The fourth year of your Double bachelor in Economics and Philosophy of Economics will consist solely of advanced philosophy courses, divided into four blocks per year. Each block runs for 10 weeks and lectures will mainly be given in the evening hours. In total the fourth year contains 60 credits. The fourth year includes advanced courses on the history of thought, the philosophical aspects of man and culture and social and political philosophy. You will write your thesis in the course of this final year under close supervision of a staff member. 

In class

All economic issues also have a philosophical component. In a number of courses students will get involved in thought experiments. A wide variety of topics are analytically discussed, focusing on conceptual analysis. You could think of topics such as the existence of God, skepticism, the mind-body problem, moral responsibility, ethics or politics. Students reflect critically on the powers and limits of the capacity of our minds. Moreover, they develop the academic skills to put ‘thought experimentation’ into practice: to use their own imagination and creativity for scientific and philosophical purposes.

In your first year course in microeconomics, you will learn the basic theories of rational and game theoretic choice (of any economic actor, including individuals, firms and government agencies). You will also see how these theories apply to and predict real world behaviour of people, firms and governments, through direct concrete examples worked out during the exercise sessions.

International character

All lectures and seminars of the philosophy programme are in English. Examinations may also be answered in Dutch. Depending on the subject matter, it is also allowed to write a thesis in Dutch. For economics you can choose the International Bachelor Economics and Business Economics or the Dutch equivalent called Economie en Bedrijfseconomie. The latter will be taught in Dutch initially, but all your books will be in English. During the second year there will be a few courses in English and by the third year the entire programme will be in English.

You are introduced to opportunities to have debates and discuss a wide range of (controversial) topics with students from different cultural and academic backgrounds. In this international and interdisciplinary environment a lively philosophical community emerges in which all students partake. 

Course overview

Please keep in mind that the blocks of Erasmus School of Economics are scheduled in different time slots than the blocks of the Erasmus School of Philosophy.

    • Block 1

      • The Take-Off is the introduction event for all new students of Erasmus School of Economics. During this interesting introduction event, you will be provided with useful practical information and receive an introduction to your studies, meet your fellow students and our School.

        • Properties of functions
        • Differentiation
        • Single variable optimization
        • Functions of many variables
        • Tools for comparative statics
        • Multivariable optimization
        • Constrained optimization
      • The course includes, but is not limited to the following topics:

        • Basic bookkeeping techniques
        • Purchase and sale of goods
        • Depreciation of fixed assets
        • Accounting for bad debts
      • This course lasts the entire year

        Block 1: Academic Study Skills

        Block 2: Academic Presentation Skills

        Block 3: Academic Writing Skills

        Block 4: Academic Research Skills

        Block 5: Academic Skills Research Project

    • Block 2

        • The first part of the course deals with the theory of the consumer.
        • The second part focuses on the theory of the firm, and includes the topics of firm production and firm cost.
        • The last part of the course turns to market structures, to the joint analysis of firm and consumer behavior within a market and to factor markets.
      • The aim of this course is to identify the importance of ICT in business.

      • This course lasts the entire year

        Block 1: Academic Study Skills

        Block 2: Academic Presentation Skills

        Block 3: Academic Writing Skills

        Block 4: Academic Research Skills

        Block 5: Academic Skills Research Project

    • Block 3

      • The course includes:

        • Interactions between money markets and goods markets;
        • The impact of government policy on aggregate employment and output;
      • The aim of this course is to obtain an understanding of the role that mathematics plays in the economic sciences

      • This course lasts the entire year

        Block 1: Academic Study Skills

        Block 2: Academic Presentation Skills

        Block 3: Academic Writing Skills

        Block 4: Academic Research Skills

        Block 5: Academic Skills Research Project

    • Block 4

      • The aim of this course is to acquire knowledge of basic statistical methods and techniques.

      • In this course, students will work as teams to develop a marketing plan for a new product/service.

      • This course lasts the entire year

        Block 1: Academic Study Skills

        Block 2: Academic Presentation Skills

        Block 3: Academic Writing Skills

        Block 4: Academic Research Skills

        Block 5: Academic Skills Research Project

    • Block 5

      • The contents of the course organisation and strategy cover three blocks: the firm, the market, and the [macro-]environment.

      • This course lasts the entire year

        Block 1: Academic Study Skills

        Block 2: Academic Presentation Skills

        Block 3: Academic Writing Skills

        Block 4: Academic Research Skills

        Block 5: Academic Skills Research Project

    • Block 1

      • The course international economics focuses primarily on the world economy as such and the relationships between countries and trading blocks regarding international trade, capital flows, economic growth, exchange rates and financial crises.

      • After this course you will be:
        i) more critical of debates about welfare policies in Europe;
        ii) able to distinguish equity from efficiency motivations for social policies;
        iii) able analyse the design of welfare policies;
        iv) able to assess the validity of empirical analyses of welfare issues;
        v) practised in developing a logical, coherent argument.

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        In Northern Europe, the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries saw the first proliferation of the Enlightenment – a cultural movement characterized by its pleas in favor of toleration, its opposition to ‘prejudices’, its fascination with the results achieved by the ‘Scientific Revolution’ as well as by its proposals for societal reforms. Philosophers played a crucial role in articulating its program.

      • The first part of the course offers a systematic overview of the main subjects  and concepts of Philosophical Anthropology (such as the place of man in the Cosmos, the relationship between body and mind, consciousness, action, freedom of will, (inter)subjectivity, reflexivity and language), and its relationship to other philosophical disciplines, such as ethics and social philosophy, and the empirical sciences and humanities, which deal with human beings, such as biological anthropology, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, history, and cultural anthropology.

    • Block 2

      • The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of the fundamentals in corporate finance and investments.

      • This course follows on the course on descriptive statistics in Applied Statistics 1 (FEB11005) and prepares the ground for active scientific research in later courses (Methods and Techniques FEB12012, Research Project FEB12013, in seminar and thesis projects, and later in jobs requiring skills in doing and interpreting applied research).

    • Block 3

      • The course consists of two parts: personnel economics and public economics.

      • The history of economic thought helps us to understand why economists think they way they do today. It describes how theoretical frameworks have changed over time.

    • Block 4

      • In methods and techniques students will get acquainted with the toolbox for scientific economic research. 

      • This course will give an overview of the limitations of traditional economic and financial models and how they can be improved upon by using psychological insights.

    • Block 5

      • The aim of this course is to develop understanding of the theory and practice of providing internal information (Management Accounting) and external information (Financial Accounting), necessary for decision making purposes by stakeholders of an organization. 

      • The Research Project has two aims: (1) Apply the methods and techniques learnt in the first two bachelor years, and (2) Preparation for  the bachelor thesis. 

    • Block 1

      • Erasmus School of Economics offers minors in the first block of each academic year in the third Bachelor year.

        You can use four Philosophy courses offered in block 1 as a minor for your bachelor Economics and Business Economics.

      • Some main themes in general philosophy of science: scientific revolution, confirmation, explanation, rationality, realism, sociology, norms and values, methodology.

      • In this module, students are introduced to the key approaches and debates in the field of science & technology studies and the philosophy of technology. They develop the academic skills to understand and critically reflect on the key approaches and concepts in this multidisciplinary field and they learn to put these concepts it into practice. The module is designed for students who wish to engage in the interdisciplinary understanding of the role of science and technology in modern society. It will more specifically focus on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are embedded in and are shaping processes of social change.

      • In this module, the interplay between the critical and the creative aspects of scientific reasoning is explored and modeled. Students develop their creative skills and learn how to use them optimally in the context of scientific inquiry. Special attention is devoted to the complications that arise from interdisciplinary problem solving.

      • This module will explore some of the most important social theories from the last half century, and their consequences for – interrelations between - disciplinary thinking in the humanities and social sciences. Its guiding notion is that of critique, as it has developed in this timeframe. We will investigate the relation between society and the knowledge produced by the social sciences and the humanities, as well as the methods used to produce such knowledge. We will focus on critical theory (Habermas), (post)structuralism (Foucault), autopoiesis (Luhmann), sympoiesis (Haraway) and actor-network theory (Latour).

    • Block 2+3

      • The electives represent a choice of supplementary but fascinating academic views from the specialisation that you have chosen.

        The elective space is 12 cr when the Minor is rounded off at 12 cr, and 9 cr when the Minor is rounded off at 15 cr.

    • Block 3+4

    • Block 4

      • This is an introductory course in the philosophy of economics. Both classical texts and more recent research in the areas of economic methodology and ethics & economics will be discussed and commented on.

        Philosophy of Economics counts for both the Economics and Business Economics programme and the Philosophy programme.

      • The thesis is the crown on your Bachelor’s degree programme. 

    • Block 1

      • This introduction to practical philosophy discusses a number of contemporary challenges and how our arguments and ideas about those challenges relate to our views on ‘who we are’, ‘what it is that motivates us’, and ‘what we value’. Examples of the questions we will address are: Is everything for sale? Is there something wrong with being biased? Do nudges undermine our autonomy? And: Do we need a national identity? Students will be expected to critically reflect on these questions and articulate possible answers and positions with the help of the philosophical views and arguments presented to them.

      • ”Real experiments” play a pivotal role in science. But scientists also often make use of their imagination and creativity by performing ”thought experiments”. In science, thought experiments fulfill certain crucial functions. In philosophy, they are simply indispensable. In this module, various examples of thought experiments are carefully introduced, analyzed and discussed. Students learn to distinguish, recognize and compare different kinds of thought experiments, and to reflect critically on their respective assumptions, powers and limits. Moreover, they develop the academic skills to put ”thought experimentation” into practice, i.e., to use their own imagination and creativity for scientific and philosophical purposes.

    • Block 2

      •  

        Key figures in this course will be: Kierkegaard (on truth and individual existence), Husserl (on transcendental subjectivity as the ‘wonder of all wonders’), Heidegger (on the 'event' of being human and the framing of existence in the era of Technology), Sartre (the ontology of absolute freedom and radical responsibility), Merleau-Ponty (on the phenomenology of bodily perception), Gadamer (on philosophical hermeneutics) and Levinas (on questioning the primacy of ontology in phenomenology and western philosophy as a hole).

      •  

        Due to its universal applicability, sustainability has become a hollow concept. Its political urgency and critical impact have been reduced by eco skepticism and as a result of jargonesk repetition in governmental and corporate policies that are not designed to change the current situation on an infrastructural level of economy and politics. Globally and locally, sustainability now uncritically covers nearly every economic transaction that, despite its being redefined, is reinscribed in conventional practices. Real transition and cooperation demand a discursive turn. A thorough ecophilosophical revaluation has to reinstall a threefold concept of sustainability – physical, social and mental - and ecology in its integral impact. This course provides and discusses the basic concepts of this discourse focused on a second enlightenment: a medial enlightenment.

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        Content: After (re-)introducing the use of (propositional and predicate) logic in formal ontology, this course gives a thorough introduction to six pivotal problems in contemporary formal ontology and analytic metaphysics, more specifically: (1) abstract entities, (2) material objects, (3) time, (4) persistence, (5) modality, and (6) causation. It also considers critiques of metaphysics and related metametaphysical issues and ongoing debates.

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        We will examine moral concepts such as rationality, equality, justice, and efficiency, and discuss how relevant these are to the evaluation of economic outcomes, institutions and policies. Theoretical frameworks that help with this kind of assessment, such as utilitarianism and egalitarianism, will also be introduced. Furthermore, we will discuss ethical questions as they arise in the context of more specific debates such as the use of incentives, the maximization of happiness, and the markets for kidneys.

    • Block 3

      •  

        By 1750s the French Enlightenment in particular takes off its gloves. Diderot and D’Holbach start propagating a ‘Spinozist’ materialism, which raises the issue of the origins of the Radical Enlightenment. Simultaneously Rousseau singlehandedly revolutionizes French political thought. Meanwhile, the German Enlightenment (Thomasius, Wolff, Lessing) gets under way and the eighteenth-century culture of sensibility spreads throughout Europe. Following the French Revolution, Burke and De Maistre launch their Counter-Enlightenment, the echoes of which can still be traced in twentieth-century critical accounts of the Enlightenment such as Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectics of Enlightenment.

      • The first part of the course examines the nature of cooperation. The second part of the course examines the role of values in economics. 

      • David Hume’s criticism of the notion of causality prompted Immanuel Kant to develop a new philosophy in which causality is no longer a property of the world outside us, but rather a concept in our minds that assists us in making sense of the world. This is his famous ‘Copernican Revolution’; rather than objects in the world shaping the cognitive operations of subjects (epistemological realism), these subjective operations determine our perceptions of objects and our judgements about objects (epistemological idealism). This is only part of Kant’s enormous contribution to philosophy. In his ethics he defended morarility in the form of a law that demands to be obeyed for its own sake, the commands of which are not issued by some alien authority but the voice of reason that the moral subject can recognize as his own. Finally, although Kant was a great Enlightened demolisher of the truth of metaphysics, he nevertheless maintained that certain notions can still have a useful regulative function; one example is the notion of teleology. This notion plays a major role in his philosophy of history, his political philosophy and his radical plea for world peace, Perpetual Peace (1795); paradoxically enough, this teleological perspective also implies a surprisingly positive evaluation of the function of war.
         

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        Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Aristotelian conception of the sciences seemed to have passed its expiry date. Many novatores in philosophy were inspired to develop methodological innovations in order to find new ways of coming to know more about nature, yet it was only in the work of René Descartes (1596-1650) that the “new philosophy” developed into a real alternative for the complete body of Aristotelian thought. Descartes’ mechanistic view of nature would prove fruitful in the field of natural philosophy and would inspire him to formulate a new metaphysical conception of man. In the hands of Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677), Descartes’ mechanistic approach came to affect questions of ethics and politics as well, leading to drastic changes in the interpretation of human mental life and human freedom.
        Besides discussing Descartes and Spinoza, this course will sketch the broader historical context in which their work emerged, by focussing on humanist alternatives in ethics and politics, such as that of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645); alternative mechanistic philosophies, such as those of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679); alternative metaphysics, such as those of Platonists and Occasionalists; and alternative methodologies, such as that of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).
         

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        The bachelor thesis is a work of critical philosophical reflection on a classic philosophical text. You choose one of the classic works from a list of suggestions (see the course description in the courseguide). In addition, you choose a supervisor from among the lecturers in the chair group of your choice. Look here for a list of subjects and supervisors. You may also ask the relevant professor which supervisor it would be best to select. After approval of your draft by the supervisor you must apply to the examination board for approval of your bachelor programme by means of the application form you can find on the Faculty website. You must do this before 1 January of the academic year. The examination board will select an advisor for your graduation research and will notify both him/her and yourself in due course.
         

    • Block 4

      •  

        We will study the basic concepts and theories of social and political philosophy, and more specifically of political theory, based on the conviction that social and political thought always also has to be understood from the social and political context from which it arose. Central themes will include: state, citizenship, nationalism, power, ideology, freedom, equality, governmentality, discipline, feminism, orientialism, postcolonialism, and environmentalism. Contemporary views will be discussed in relation to classic insights from the history of philosophy.

      •  

        The course considers normative ethics and discusses the four major moral theories that attempt to formulate basic principles of morality: virtue ethics, contractualism, utilitarianism and deontology. It also turns to meta-ethics and moral psychology to discuss more foundational issues such as the nature of morality and moral motivation, how to understand moral disagreements, and whether there exist something like moral truth and moral knowledge.

        In the first two weeks we will discuss the four major theories, in the second two weeks we will discuss on which assumptions these theories rely. Do all these theories assume, for example, that our moral judgments can be true or false and if so, is that not a highly controversial assumption? Can we do without such an assumption and if so how would morality look from that perspective?
         

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        This module offers an introduction to a diversity of philosophical perspectives on art. Besides the classical points of view of Plato, Aristoteles, Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche, we will focus on 20th century philosophers: Lukacs, Adorno, Benjamin, Jameson, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze, Badiou and Ranciere. Contrary to philosophy’s traditional derogatory treatment of art, these philosophers have elaborated a new complicity between art and philosophy. Instead of speaking about art, they have started a dialogue between art and philosophy that in some cases even culminates in an aestheticization of thought and a self-reflective turn towards the artificiality of philosophy. The course is organized around three thematic clusters: 1) art and truth; 2) Marxist cultural critique; 3) modernist philosophies of art.

      • The bachelor thesis is a work of critical philosophical reflection on a classic philosophical text. You choose one of the classic works from a list of suggestions (see the course description in the courseguide). In addition, you choose a supervisor from among the lecturers in the chair group of your choice. Look here for a list of subjects and supervisors. You may also ask the relevant professor which supervisor it would be best to select. After approval of your draft by the supervisor you must apply to the examination board for approval of your bachelor programme by means of the application form you can find on the Faculty website. You must do this before 1 January of the academic year. The examination board will select an advisor for your graduation research and will notify both him/her and yourself in due course.