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The moral layer of contemporary economics: A virtue-ethics perspective

This paper questions whether the contemporary science of economics and its recommendations are built on sound moral foundations as assessed from a virtue-based definition of ethical behaviour. We argue that the model of man underlying economic analyses can correspond to the model of a virtuous person, and that economics, by advocating reasoned choice and careful resource utilization, makes a positive contribution to the moral development of individuals.

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File URL: http://www.essec.fr/faculty/showDeclFileRes.do?declId=6974&key=__workpaper__
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Paper provided by ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School in its series ESSEC Working Papers with number DR 07006.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-07006
Contact details of provider: Postal: ESSEC Research Center, BP 105, 95021 Cergy, France
Web page: http://www.essec.edu/Email:


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  1. Cowen, Tyler, 1989. "Are all tastes constant and identical? : A critique of Stigler and Becker," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 127-135, January.
  2. Smith, Vernon L., 2005. "Behavioral economics research and the foundations of economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 135-150, March.
  3. Altman, Morris, 2005. "The ethical economy and competitive markets: Reconciling altruistic, moralistic, and ethical behavior with the rational economic agent and competitive markets," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 732-757, October.
  4. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 414-418, May.
  5. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328.
  6. James M. Buchanan, 1992. "Economic Science in the Future," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 401-403, Fall.
  7. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  8. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  9. Michael C. Jensen & William H. Meckling, 1994. "The Nature Of Man," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 7(2), pages 4-19.
  10. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  11. Robert J. Oxoby, 2004. "Cognitive dissonance, status and growth of the underclass," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(498), pages 727-749, October.
  12. Vranceanu, Radu, 2005. "The Ethical Dimension of Economic Choices," ESSEC Working Papers DR 05001, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  13. von Weizsacker, Carl Christian, 1971. "Notes on endogenous change of tastes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 345-372, December.
  14. Anthony M. Yezer & Robert S. Goldfarb & Paul J. Poppen, 1996. "Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What We Do, Not What We Say or How We Play," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 177-186, Winter.
  15. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  16. Noreen, Eric, 1988. "The economics of ethics: A new perspective on agency theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 359-369, June.
  17. Pollak, Robert A., 1976. "Habit formation and long-run utility functions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 272-297, October.
  18. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
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