testata retro Sophia

Intersubjectivity in economics and pursuit of wellbeing


Patricio Cossio: an excellent result at the autumn graduation session 


As in every other university, in Sophia the graduation sessions are not only the culminating points of the academic path, but also moments of synthesis in the studies. The public discussion of the thesis, besides clarifying the input offered to a specific discipline, also becomes a kind of epilogue:  in Sophia, it is the entire academic community that gathers to share the inter-trans disciplinary experience of the candidate, and the methods and know-how that concur with their own specificity, in creating a more complete vision of the world.


The 2016 autumn session did not disappoint the expectations: the degree thesis offered the possibility to expound on innovative research themes in the fields of economics, politics, social sciences and communications. Two works in particular obtained maximum grades; circumstances that in reality do not occur often. What evidently counted was the quality of the research and the relevance of themes faced, along with the excellence of the academic programme under various profiles. But the evaluation of the exam Commission wished to recognise an additional element, which was the candidate’s full participation not only in the intellectual challenges required by the achievement of a degree, but also in the experience of life proposed.


Patricio Cossio, an Argentinean economist already on the way to university teaching, is one of the Cum Laude awardees. The research presented in Spanish was entitled: “Happiness or Capacity? The importance of intersubjectivity according to two threads of research in economy.” The candidate expounded on his choice of the theme by saying: “On the whole, the initial question was simple: how much do economic results weigh on the pursuit of wellbeing? As we all know, the greater levels of income or material wealth do not always result in an increase of wellbeing or the level of development. However, often the growth of the GDP per head and other income indices are the main objectives of the decisions of single individuals as in the public policies.”

We asked the thesis supervisor and economist, Benedetto Gui, to summarise some valuable points of the thesis: “I feel the obligation to highlight first of all, the effort Patricio Cossio undertook to comprehend in depth the mainstream path of economic science, from Smith to the neoclassical school, highly influenced by positivism which has dictated the agenda of research in economy almost up to today. In this framework, in the face of the progressive dwindling of the queries on the aims of economic activities, another demand – that of goods manifested on the market – still dominating economic debate, was the base of the study of our young Argentinian student.

We have to say that our query on the reason for such a dilemma in economics, is generally not considered as opportune – or ”politically correct,” as we would say today – since each one, to our mind, must be free to pursue the finalities he wants without permitting the scholar to judge if they are good and the extent of this from their standpoint. But if it were so, then the only important item of the human quality of coexistence would be that which measures the volumes of goods produced and exchanged, the so-called Gross Domestic Product or GDP, with all that this implies.
The thesis here meets two recent research threads that have been given great attention in the social and economic sciences, which in various ways question such an “objectivist” theoretical construction: the economy of happiness and behavioural economy, that recover in the economic debate on wellbeing, different, previously ignored, decisive and highly subjective factors of conventional goods, and in some cases intersubjectivity. Lastly, Patricio Cossio introduces the contribution of Amartya Sen, essential for the deepening of a different approach to economic theory from those general ones, that broadly predominate in university teaching at all latitudes. His reflection on the centrality of public debate and on the spirit of deliberative democracy is part of this perspective.

The interdisciplinary tone of Patricio Cossio’s thesis emerges explicitly at this point, to hold together, one could say, various visions of the person and society and connect them to the theme of wellbeing. It is the philosophical register that supports him, giving him a way of positively expressing, especially in the last part, also this dimension of the study acquired in the two years spent in Sophia, without forgetting the synergy that comes from the double title agreement with the Perugia University.”

The evaluation of Dr. Cossio’s work thus awards the depth of the analysis, and his passion for knowledge and constancy, and encourages him to continue his scientific activities in the field of economics and to give room to the unexpressed dilemmas and queries, which are fertile motives for research especially when the lives of people and their coexistence are at the centre of it all.
By: Mario Agostino

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