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Ethics and Economics - Of Value and Values


  • Paul Dumouchel


This paper argues that economics and ethics should not be seen as opposed and radically different, but rather as two versions or aspects of the same enterprise, that of providing rules of interactions for agents who are not attached by obligations of reciprocity. The particularity of modern economics – as opposed to traditional gift exchange – is not that it is without any ethical content but that it proposes an answer to the question: how should I behave towards those to whom I owe nothing. The only coherent answer to that question that is not imposed from the outside implies fairness as a self-regulating characteristic of exchange I argue. Values in the sense of value ethics are related to this enterprise as a way of resolving the problem that fairness in exchange and more generally reciprocity (once reciprocal obligations have disappeared) must presuppose itself and thus cannot be guaranteed.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Dumouchel, 2008. "Ethics and Economics - Of Value and Values," Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik - Journal for Business, Economics & Ethics, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 9(1), pages 28-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ethics:doi_10.1688/1862-0043_zfwu_2008_01_dumouchel

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    Ethics; Economics; Reciprocity; Obligations of Solidarity; Values; Ceremonial Gift;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • M20 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Economics - - - General


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