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Economic Ethics for Real Humans - The Contribution of Behavioral Economics to Economic Ethics


  • Lisa Herzog


This paper discusses how economic ethics can profit from taking into account the results of behavioral economics. In contrast to the neo-classical mainstream of economics, behavioral economics does not presuppose the model of ‘economic man’, but explores the ways in which real human beings make economic decisions. The example of akrasia and its effects on old-age saving shows that behavioral economic research opens new fields for economic ethics. A central ethical aspect in this context is the question about the moral autonomy of economic agents. A Rawlsian approach shows that opt-out systems, which take into account typical behavioral tendencies, can, under certain conditions, be a way of combining the desiderata of supporting rational behavior and safe-guarding autonomy.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa Herzog, 2008. "Economic Ethics for Real Humans - The Contribution of Behavioral Economics to Economic Ethics," Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik - Journal for Business, Economics & Ethics, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 9(1), pages 112-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ethics:doi_10.1688/1862-0043_zfwu_2008_01_herzog

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    More about this item


    Economic Ethics; Behavioral Economics; Economic Methodology; Akrasia; Libertarian Paternalism;

    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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