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Department of Agricultural Economics, 103B Filley Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0922, USA
Received 8 October 1998; received in revised form 1 April 1999; accepted 1 April 1999
Microeconomics envisions a single decision-maker in a firm or household who is presumed to experience economic relationships only in markets. This theory is largely silent regarding the moral dimension, i.e., the nature of the invisible hand, and how it unconsciously affects the self acting in said markets. Amitai Etzioni, the founder of socioeconomics, offered the vision of the moral dimension as a component of the self. Metaeconomics operationalizes this vision by making explicit the Strict Father moral dimension in the invisible hand and recognizing interdependence of self when Nurturant Parent morality is operant. It builds upon a tripartite, multiple--self concept, with a mediating adult who balances the pleasures with the moral dimension in finding a satisfactory mix of self- and we-interests. By making this dimension explicit, metaeconomics reintegrates ethics and economics, includes values and community, and proposes the starting point for a common analytical engine for all socioeconomists. (c) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
As Sen (1987, p. 19, 20) notes, the "real issue is whether there is a plurality of motivations, or whether self-interest alone drives human beings" and speaks of commitments, wherein "groups intermediate between oneself and all... such as class, community or occupation groups..." As Schelling (1984a, p. 84) argues, "people act as if there were two selves alternatively in command ..." and calls for a command theory rather than a decision theory. Bellah et al. (1985, p. 84) note how "All our activity goes on in relationships, groups, associations, and communities ordered by institutional structures and interpreted by cultural patterns of meaning." Interpreted: Self- and we-interests are seemingly best thought of as joint, nonseparable, which probably suggests why Evensky (1992, P. 35) has argued that if the discourse of economists is to have meaning in the larger social science community, that we must find a way to include the "role of values and community" in that discourse. Etzioni (1990, p. 225) calls for a "new philosophical and ethical base for a different paradigm... that recognizes at least two utilities, the traditional one and that of living up to one's moral values... (recognizing) inherent and different satisfactions, fundamentally different sources of value." We suggest here the rational adult mediates across the dual selves seeking a balance of the utilities. We move to make the invisible hand, the moral dimension as it were, first conscious, and then visible.
2. Helping the invisible hand become visible: the tripartite self
We perhaps need another analytical engine. The proposal here is for a metaeconomics, an analytical system that encompasses and makes explicit the unconscious conceptual moral system by recognizing a multiple self having both the self-interest and the we-interest as multiple, and joint, motives. It recognizes this multiple self as a purposive actor embedded in a social system (see Granovetter, 1985), an individual who acts reasonably, responsibly and rationally in accordance with moral principles and norms within the ethical system(s) that characterizes this social system.  This theory embeds social norms within an individualistic framework. 
The key is to recognize that each individual perhaps really is a multiple-self having more than a single interest. Metaeconomics proposes a tri-partite individual.  First, a child, largely emotionally driven, it "feels good" in pursuing the self-interest (microeconomics speaks of consumers, child-like pleasure seekers wanting "goods"); second, a parent pursuing the we-interest, which is often unconscious,  but yet often still pursued with emotion, an emotion built on what the parent part feels about the "claims of others," "sympathy (and, perhaps empathy)," and "commitment" (Sen, 1977, p. 318, 326); and, third, an adult who is the rational, reasoning mediator. This mediator, sometimes maximizer but more often satisficer (whether as consumers or firms, borrowing the satisficing concept from Simon 1982, p. 69)  is the purposive, acting, rational adult that is called to mediate as between the two often waning parts, with this adult seeking a satisfactory peace when the self-interest and the we-interest are at odds.  As Coleman (1990, p. 5) has noted, a suitable social theory needs to address the "peaceful coexistence of man and society, as two intersecting systems of action." In metaeconomics, "man" is the selfish child-like part of the individual, with "society (parent)" intersecting, and influencing the child-like pursuit of the self-interest through what is built into the parent (society) data of the individual (usually unconscious, as represented in the Strict Father and Nurturant Parent models, as described later). Bellah et al. (1985, p. 77) note the tension between feeling good (in the child-part) and being good (in the parent-part), and the need for the individual to resolve it. With such resolution, a peaceful coexistence of the parts within the person and sought by each rational adult perhaps can result in a peaceful coexistence of this person within society as long as each individual demonstrates sufficient empathy, reflected in each individual's we-interest, and with sufficient overlap of th e we-interests (i.e., common norms, shared values, similar ethical systems, overlap within the moral dimension) in the society, which holds the potential for resolving the micro-to-macro transition problem.
We can now add to the analytical substance of Granovetter's "embeddedness" idea. A metaeconomic view of embeddedness suggests that an individual pursuing self-interest jointly pursues the we-interest that reflects the perceived claims of communities of interest, i.e., the moral dimension, on that pursuit. The pursuit of self-interest is embedded in and influenced by the social situation (Granovetter, 1985, p. 506), and thus the moral-dimension.
We can also add to the analytical substance of Sen's (1987) notion of positive freedom(s). To be truly free, the mediating individual perhaps needs to be able to make explicit the moral dimension that is the first step in extricating the self- from the we/parent-interests in society,  to somehow rise above the old, perhaps out-of-date (often learned as a child) sometimes discriminatory and usually constraining we-interests, to truly be able to have equal opportunity, and true freedom of choice (assuming a society which encourages same, which is not always the case, e.g., in totalitarian societies). The mediating adult needs the opportunity from this Nurturant Society to form his or her own perceptions of what part of the we-interest is to be her/his own, and then to freely, jointly pursue the newly found, personalized, joint self- and we-interest.  The freedom to choose seemingly involves far more than removing the negative freedoms/constraints on the pursuit of self-interest. It involves, also, the gi ving of opportunities, the true positive freedoms to choose to be ones-self by choosing one's own self- and we-interests.
We are now positioned for an attempt at bridging the gap, in a move to a coherent analytical system that starts the reintegration of ethics and economics. First, however, we must address the moral dimension. We can do so with a focus on the family, as the basis for a new metaeconomics theory.
3. Possible parental moral models
Going back at least to Aristotle, economics has been based in the family, with the word itself deriving from the Latin/Greek oikonomikos, with oikos meaning house, or the economics of the house. It is nothing particularly new, then, to base another theory of economics in the family, a metaeconomic theory to supplement, and as an alternative to, the standard microeconomic theory. To know where we are going, however, we must first know where we are now. Let us first examine the character of the family model, i.e., the moral dimension, and the morality, implicit in microeconomics theory. We draw heavily upon Lakoff (1996), as a representative of cognitive science , in the next two sections.
3.1. The strict father family model: underlying microeconomics
The Strict Father family in its major outlines is an important part of American mythology (Lakoff, 1996, p. 65), and thus also underlies American, and, perhaps more broadly, Anglo--Saxon, microeconomic theorizing. The world is conceptualized as a dangerous place with life difficult, survival a major concern, and thus the Strict Father morality model presumes (Metaphorically, also read Business Firm and Nation as Family: Commentary in italics added to this well-worded characterization by Lakoff):
A traditional nuclear family (business, nation), with the father (CEO, head of state) having primary responsibility for supporting and protecting the family as well as the authority to set overall family (firm, government) policy. He teaches children (workers, citizens) right from wrong by setting strict rules for their behavior and enforcing them through punishment. The punishment is typically mild to moderate ("you 're grounded," no pay raise, fines), but sufficiently painful. It is commonly corporeal punishment--say, with a belt or a stick (chain gang jail sentences, death). He also gains their cooperation by showing love and appreciation when they do follow the rules (support, rewards, and incentives). But children must never be coddled, lest they become spoiled; a spoiled child (worker, citizen) will be dependent for life and will not learn proper morals.
The mother (vice presidents, division directors, deans, minimalist government agencies) has day-to-day responsibilities for the care of the house, raising the children, and upholding the father's authority. Children must respect and obey their parents (CEOs, chancellors, government leaders), partly for their own safety and partly because by doing so they build character, that is, self-discipline and self-reliance. Love and nurturance are a vital part of family life, but they should never out-weigh parental authority, which is itself an expression of love and nurturance--tough love (strong military and police, strong leaders). Self-discipline, self-reliance, and respect for legitimate authority are the crucial things a child must learn. A mature adult becomes self-reliant through applying self-discipline in pursuing his self-interest (the most highly, perhaps only, valued pursuit). Only if a child learns self-discipline can he become self-reliant later in life. Survival is …