IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Background to Hawtrey's Ethics

  • David Andrews

The positive/normative distinction, in its modern form, was introduced into economics by Lionel Robbins. Robbins's discussion of the distinction was provoked in part by Ralph Hawtrey's prior claim that economics cannot be dissociated from ethics. Robbins's argument has been quite influential, but Hawtrey himself was not persuaded and later explicitly reaffirmed his view but did not sketch out its basis in any published writing. This article offers an interpretation of the philosophical underpinnings of Hawtrey's position. It argues that Hawtrey had a sophisticated, well-developed, and coherent position, with deep historical roots and based on the ethics of G. E. Moore and that rejected moral Robbins's moral skepticism. Hawtrey took the view that goodness is an objective property of the world and, as a result, he construed the relationship between ethics and economics in a manner quite different from that which prevails today.

If 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.

File URL:
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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.

Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 42 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
Pages: 297-322

in new window

Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:2:p:297-322
Contact details of provider: Postal: Duke University Press 905 W. Main Street, Suite 18B Durham, NC 27701
Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:2:p:297-322. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.