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Efficiency and justice revisited


  • Holler, Manfred J.
  • Leroch, Martin


At first sight, modern economics and justice seem not to fit together. Whereas the former primarily deals with individual self-interest and extrinsic incentives, the latter deals with other-regardingness and intrinsic social motives. However, recent findings, mainly from the field of experimental economics, reintroduce aspects of justice into economic modeling. Other theories, evolutionary models for instance, take up the key findings and apply the economic rationale in order to find out why human traits which apparently run counter to individual self-interest may have survived. In this introductory note we date this discussion back to the days of Adam Smith and argue that he already set the basis for such a discussion. Apparently, Smith was well aware that principles of justice and the market may, at times, be contradictory. However, he also found that both served a common purpose, or so we will argue. We further aim at bringing together Smith's classical position with recent ideas, for instance Binmore's theory of justice, and see whether the one can be fruitful for the other.

Suggested Citation

  • Holler, Manfred J. & Leroch, Martin, 2010. "Efficiency and justice revisited," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 311-319, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:26:y:2010:i:3:p:311-319

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    2. Frank Marlowe, 2004. "Dictators and ultimatums in an egalitarian society of hunter-gatherers, the hadza of tanzania," Framed Field Experiments 00189, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Sen, Amartya, 2009. "Capitalism Beyond the Crisis," Scholarly Articles 2961699, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    4. Joseph Henrich, 2000. "Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior? Ultimatum Game Bargaining among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 973-979, September.
    5. Holler, Manfred J. & Leroch, Martin, 2008. "Impartial Spectator, Moral Community, And Some Legal Consequences," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(03), pages 297-316, September.
    6. Roth, Alvin E. & Vesna Prasnikar & Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Shmuel Zamir, 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1068-1095, December.
    7. Rudi Verburg, 2000. "Adam Smith's growing concern on the issue of distributive justice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(1), pages 23-44.
    8. Binmore, Ken, 2007. "Playing for Real: A Text on Game Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195300574, June.
    9. Bitros, George C. & Karayiannis, Anastassios D., 2010. "Morality, institutions and the wealth of nations: Some lessons from ancient Greece," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 68-81, March.
    10. Binmore, Ken, 2005. "Natural Justice," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195178111, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Manfred J. Holler & Martin A. Leroch, 2014. "Theories of justice and empirical results," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 6, pages 143-159 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Mejía Cubillos, Javier, 2012. "Ética y Justicia. Reflexiones a partir de The Idea of Justice de Amartya Sen
      [Ethics and justice. Reflections on The Idea of ​​Justice by Amartya Sen]
      ," MPRA Paper 37458, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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