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Beyond Utilitarianism and Deontology: Ethics in Economics

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  • Irene Van Staveren

Abstract

This article starts from a methodological position that fact and value are mutually related, both in the real world and in economic analysis. It then discusses deontological ethics. This approach is concerned with equality and dignity, as expressed in right and norms, and how these rights and norms constrain individual choices. Deontology is thus different from the utility maximisation of utilitarian ethics, where ethics appears in utility functions as moral preferences. The paper then argues that, although deontology does better than utilitarianism in analysing ethics in economics, it has its own weaknesses. These weaknesses require another theory of ethics for economics, virtue ethics, which emphasises the interrelatedness of agents and commitment to shared values beyond the rules that a society has institutionalised. Virtue ethics internalises morality not as a preference or a constraint, but through the practices in which agents are related in their pursuit of value added.

Suggested Citation

  • Irene Van Staveren, 2007. "Beyond Utilitarianism and Deontology: Ethics in Economics," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 21-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:19:y:2007:i:1:p:21-35 DOI: 10.1080/09538250601080776
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    Cited by:

    1. Greaker, Mads & Stoknes, Per Espen & Alfsen, Knut H. & Ericson, Torgeir, 2013. "A Kantian approach to sustainable development indicators for climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 10-18.
    2. Safarzyńska, Karolina, 2013. "Evolutionary-economic policies for sustainable consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 187-195.
    3. Timothy C. Johnson, 2012. "Ethics and Finance: the role of mathematics," Papers 1210.5390, arXiv.org.
    4. George Gotsis & Zoe Kortezi, 2010. "Ethical Considerations in Organizational Politics: Expanding the Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 497-517.
    5. Cheng-Li Huang & Ju-Lan Tsai, 2015. "Managerial Morality and Philanthropic Decision-Making: A Test of an Agency Model," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 795-811.
    6. Timothy C. Johnson, 2013. "Reciprocity as the foundation of Financial Economics," Papers 1310.2798, arXiv.org.
    7. Vinnari, Markus & Tapio, Petri, 2012. "Sustainability of diets: From concepts to governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 46-54.
    8. Gerasimos T. Soldatos & Erotokritos Varelas, 2015. "A first formal approach to animal spirits beyond uncertainty," European Journal of Government and Economics, Europa Grande, vol. 4(2), pages 104-117, December.
    9. Benedetta Giovanola, 2009. "Re-Thinking the Anthropological and Ethical Foundation of Economics and Business: Human Richness and Capabilities Enhancement," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 431-444.

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