Economics and Ethics: An Introduction to Theory, Institutions, and Policy

Economics and Ethics: An Introduction to Theory, Institutions, and Policy

Economics and Ethics: An Introduction to Theory, Institutions, and Policy

Economics and Ethics: An Introduction to Theory, Institutions, and Policy

Synopsis

Noted economist Douglas Vickers reexamines the relationship between economics and moral philosophy. That relationship, once very strong, is again the subject of increasing attention and discussion both within and beyond the academy. Vickers reestablishes the substantial bridges between ethical philosophy and economics. He addresses three main issues: first, the historical means by which economics has consciously surrendered its original association with ethical categories and criteria; second, the need to articulate the appropriate thoughtforms and vocabulary of ethical theory; and third, the illustration of areas in economics where ethical awareness is desirable and should be allowed to exert influence. This work is a major analysis which will be of considerable interest to economists, the business community, government regulators, and all concerned with economic decisionmaking in modern society.

Excerpt

One of the more important developments in economics in recent times has been the breaking down, as Vivian Walsh has referred to it, of the "barriers to fruitful exchange between economic theory and moral philosophy" (1987, 3:868). the possible two-way conversation is not yet at full flood. But recognizing those newer lines of development, I have aimed in this book to bring into clearer focus the necessity for, and the possible range and effectiveness of, an expanded conversation between economists and moral philosophers.

Economic theory, as it matured from its classical foundations through the neoclassicism of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, surrendered its earlier moorings in the ethical and philosophic foundations from which it had developed. the methodological revolution that Ricardo accomplished at one end of the nineteenth century effectively extruded the ethical from the ethico-economic discourse that had characterized the nascent discipline. and Walras and the neo-Walrasian revival at the other end of that century, making economics substantially a matter of mathematical technique, effectively divorced the subject entirely from its erstwhile ethical presuppositions.

My objective, accordingly, is to raise the possibility of establishing new and more substantial bridges between ethical philosophy and economics. With that end in view, I have structured my argument in a manner that addresses three main issues: first, the historical respects in which economics has consciously surrendered its association with ethical categories and criteria; second, the need to articulate, in a brief and substantially . . .

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