Emma Tieffenbach

Senior researcher

Institution : University of Geneva

NCCR position : Senior Researcher
NCCR PI : Julien Deonna and Fabrice Teroni
NCCR most relevant publications
2018 Petit traité des valeurs, Paris: Edition d’Ithaque, “Sciences et Métaphysique”
2017 The Metaphysics of Economic Exchanges, in Journal of Social Ontology, 3(2): 167–205
2014 On the cost of Shame, in International Journal of Public Health and Management, 3 (7), 408-411

General Information

I am a post-doc researcher under the benefit of a Marie-Heim Vögtlin subsidie (Swiss National Foundation: PMPDP1_145534)My areas of interest are social ontology, philosophy of economics, political philosophy, values, rational choice theory, collective intentionality, social norms, Eighteenth Century thoughts.



Peer-reviewed articles

In preparation. L’argent, L’Encyclopédie philosophique, Maxime Kristanek (ed.).

Under review. The Metaphysics of Economic Exchanges (with Olivier Massin), with The Journal of Social Ontology.

2016. Trades and incommensurability (with Nir Eyal), inThe Monist,Special Issue on Conservatism.

2016. The Virtual Reality of the Invisible Hand, Social Science Information, 55 (1).

2014. On the cost of Shame, International Journal of Public Health and Management, 3 (7): 408-411.

2013. Invisible-Hand Explanation: From Blindness to Lack of We-ness. Social Science Information 52 (3): 450-470.

2010. Searle and Menger on Money, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 40 (2): 191-212.


Book chapters

In preparation. The Blindness assumption Peter Lang, Adriana Mica, Arkadiusz Peisert, Jan Winczorek (ed.), Sociology of the Invisible Hand (2017).

In press. L’envie (with Florian Cova) in David Sander (ed.), Emotions.

To appear. L’utilité, in Julien Deonna & Emma Tieffenbach (ed.), Dictionnaire des valeurs, Edition d’Ithaque, collection “sciences et métaphysique”.

2014. Qu’est-ce que l’argent? in O. Massin et A. Meylan (ed.), Aristote chez les Helvètes, Edition d’Ithaque, collection “Sciences et Métaphysique”.

2011. The Sounds of Institutional Facts. Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Kevin Mulligan, edited by Anne Reboul.

2003. De la main invisible à la Ruse de la Raison: traduction romantique d’une idée des lumières, in Giovanni Bardazzi, Alain Grosrichard (textes réunis par), Dénouement des Lumières et Invention, Romantique, Genève, Droz, 47-67.

2002. La philosophie de l’histoire d’Edmund Burke (1729-1797): de l’ordre spontané à l’anarchie méthodique, Annales Benjamin Constant, 26, 176-206.


Book reviews

2000. Mary Maynard (ed.), Science and the Construction of Women, University of York, UCL Press, Londres, 1997, Reviewed in Traverse, Revue d’histoire, 163-165.

1999. Philippe Carrard, Poétique de la nouvelle histoire. Le discours historique en France de Braudel à Chartier, Dijon, Quetigny/Lausanne, Payot, 1998, Compte-rendu in Equinoxe, revue des Sciences humaines, n° 21, Spring, 129-131.


Current Research

Understanding the Nature of Economic Value

On the Austrian view, something has economic value to the extent that it is the object of a pro-attitude. Because it places subjective valuation at the core of their analysis, such a view is conventionally described as a subjectivist theory. Yet the characterization raises several quandaries. First, it puts forward a theory of value that is incompatible with many twentieth objectivist theories of value. Second, it is not entirely clear which core-features of the Austrian view entails subjectivism. Third, subjectivism has been itself very loosely and diversely defined in the economic literature. Employing a bottom-up approach, I first intend to clarify the subjectivism of the Austrian view by distinguishing between three senses. One is the idea that economic values existentially depend on pro-attitudes. Subjectivism is here given an ontological sense. On the second meaning, an isolated and actual pro-attitude, such as Crusoe’s, is all that is needed for something to be an economic good. Subjectivism is here given an atomistic reading. On a third and epistemic meaning, the pro-attitudes are said to be authorial on what counts as economic goods. Following a top-down approach, I secondly intend to critically explore each of these subjectivist dimensions. The revisionary conception of economic value that I intend to put forward (a) takes the notion of economic goods to be a variant of personal goods, (b) stresses its irreducibly social dimension and (c) recognizes the possibility that, far from being always immune from error, agents may err in regard to what is good for them.

Selected Publications

  • Tieffenbach, Emma (2016) The virtual reality of the invisible hand . Social Science Information 55((1)), 115-134.
  • Eyal, Nir, Tieffenbach, Emma (2016) Trades and incommensurability. The Monist (Conservatism), .
  • Massin, Olivier, Tieffenbach, Emma (Submitted) What is an Exchange ? The POAP View..
  • Tieffenbach, Emma (2013) Invisible-hand explanations: From blindness to lack of we-ness. Social Sciences Informations 52 (3) , 450-470.
  • Tieffenbach, Emma (Submitted) The Invisible Hand as a Virtual Reality. Journal of Economic Methodology , .