The foundations of the ethical tradition of economics: Plato's Republic
AbstractPurpose – Economics was closely entwined with ethics up to the 1930s when this weakened subsequently. Amartya Sen first sketched this historical relationship in his book, On Ethics and Economics. This paper is in broad agreement with Sen. It aims to explore the ethical foundations of economics in ancient Greece, focussing on Plato's Republic. Design/methodology/approach – Key aspects of Sen's ethical framework (ethical motivation, human well-being, and social achievement) are used as a template to re-investigate Plato's work. A close reading of Plato's Republic is undertaken in order to demonstrate the foundations of economics as an ethical enterprise. Findings – First, Plato argues that there is a range of motivations and behaviors along an ethical scale. For Plato, the goal is to try to establish what constitutes ethical behavior and then seek conditions suitable to bring it about. Second, in the Republic, one sees an outline of Plato's understanding of human well-being. Human functioning (physical and mental flourishing, including friendship), and gender equality are key parts of his picture. Third, Plato is painting the picture of a utopian society in the Republic. In discussions of the ideal society, the economy, laws, and other policies must be set within an ethical framework. In several respects, Plato anticipates Sen's capabilities approach to economics. Originality/value – In recent years, great efforts have been devoted to developing and extending Sen's Capability Framework. Part of that work has been devoted to tracing the origins of Sen's approach back to Aristotle. This paper represents the first attempt to trace that framework back further, to Plato's Republic. JEL classification: A12, A13, B11
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Social Economics.
Volume (Year): 38 (2011)
Issue (Month): 10 (August)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com
Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
- A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
- B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Daniel Silvermintz, 2010. "Plato's Supposed Defense of the Division of Labor: A Reexamination of the Role of Job Specialization in the Republic," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 747-772, Winter.
- Alvey, James E., 2005. "Overcoming Positivism In Economics: Amartya Sen'S Project Of Infusing Ethics Into Economics," Discussion Papers 23702, Massey University, Department of Applied and International Economics.
- Ancient economic thought in Wikipedia (English)
- Pensamiento económico antiguo in Wikipedia (Spanish)
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Harris).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.