IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Moral Rules and the Moral Sentiments: Toward a Theory of an Optimal Moral System

  • Louis Kaplow
  • Steven Shavell

We examine how moral sanctions and rewards, notably the moral sentiments involving feelings of guilt and virtue, would be employed to govern individuals' behavior if the objective were to maximize social welfare. In our model, we analyze how the optimal use of guilt and virtue is influenced by the nature of the behavior under consideration, the costs of inculcating moral rules, constraints on the capacity to experience guilt and virtue, the fact that guilt and virtue often must be applied to groups of acts rather than be tailored to every conceivable type of act, and the direct effect of feelings of guilt and virtue on individuals' utility. We also consider a number of ways that the model could be extended, discuss the extent to which our analysis is consistent with the observed use of guilt and virtue, and relate our conclusions to longstanding philosophical debates about morality.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8688.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8688.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2007. "Moral Rules, the Moral Sentiments, and Behavior: Toward a Theory of an Optimal Moral System," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 494-514.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8688
Note: LE PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  2. Posner, R.A. & Rasmusen, E., 1998. "Creating and Enforcing Norms, with Special Reference to Sanctions," Papers 98-005, Indiana - Center for Econometric Model Research.
  3. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  4. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "A note on the optimal use of nonmonetary sanctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 245-247, July.
  5. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  6. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  7. Ken Binmore, 1998. "Game Theory and the Social Contract - Vol. 2: Just Playing," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 2, number 0262024446, June.
  8. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1984. "The optimal use of fines and imprisonment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 89-99, June.
  9. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
  10. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "The Optimal Use of Nonmonetary Sanctions as a Deterrent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 584-92, September.
  11. Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-97, September.
  12. Donald Wittman, 1984. "Liability for Harm or Restitution for Benefit?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 57-80, January.
  13. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  14. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  15. Weisbrod, Burton A, 1977. "Comparing Utility Functions in Efficiency Terms or, What Kind of Utility Functions Do We Want?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 991-95, December.
  16. Cosmides, Leda & Tooby, John, 1994. "Better than Rational: Evolutionary Psychology and the Invisible Hand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 327-32, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8688. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.