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Economics Against Human Rights

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  • Manuel Couret Branco

    () (Department of Economics, University of Évora)

Abstract

It is said that economics value individual and economic freedom and from that many hastily conclude that mainstream economics value human rights. The purpose of this paper is to show that on the contrary mainstream economics is fundamentally contradictory with many human rights especially Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The main reason for this is that mainstream economics and human rights have trouble in communicating, the latter speaking the rights language and the former the needs language. Within the needs language, capability to pay is the key question whereas within the rights language, entitlement is. If in the first case exclusion and inequality are acceptable in the second case the only acceptable situation is the one characterized by inclusion and equality. In other words goods and services can be unequally distributed, rights cannot. For this reason one cannot count on the market alone to ensure economic, social and cultural rights. Therefore, considering the introduction of different logics into the economic equation as unbearable interferences with economic logic, mainstream economics stands against human rights. In order to give a better illustration of this contradiction the particular conflicts between economics and the right to work, the right to water and the right to social security will be presented. The main conclusion of this paper is that in order to favour human rights economics should either suffer a paradigmatic revolution or accept to play just a supporting role in the process of global development.

Suggested Citation

  • Manuel Couret Branco, 2007. "Economics Against Human Rights," Economics Working Papers 02_2007, University of Évora, Department of Economics (Portugal).
  • Handle: RePEc:evo:wpecon:02_2007
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10174/8453
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2003. "Fairness versus Welfare: Notes on the Pareto Principle, Preferences, and Distributive Justice," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 331-362, January.
    2. Hans-Peter Weikard, 2004. "On the economics of basic liberties," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 22(1), pages 267-280, February.
    3. Manuel Couret Branco, 2006. "The Right to Work and the Political Economy of Human Rights," Economics Working Papers 08_2006, University of Évora, Department of Economics (Portugal).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human Rights; Economic Theory; Social Utility; Rights-Approach; Right to Work; Social Security;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J8 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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