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The foundations of the ethical tradition of economics: Plato'sRepublic


  • James E. Alvey


Purpose - Economics was closely entwined with ethics up to the 1930s when this weakened subsequently. Amartya Sen first sketched this historical relationship in his book, 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 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 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

Suggested Citation

  • James E. Alvey, 2011. "The foundations of the ethical tradition of economics: Plato'sRepublic," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(10), pages 824-846, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:38:y:2011:i:10:p:824-846

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. James E. Alvey, 2011. "A Short History of Ethics and Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12674.
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    More about this item


    Ethics; Economics; Socrates; Xenophon; Ethical motivations; Human well-being; Amartya Sen;


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