Moral Rules and the Moral Sentiments: Toward a Theory of an Optimal Moral System
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.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2001|
|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.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- 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, March.
- 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.
- Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
- 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.
- Rabin, Matthew, 1993.
"Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
- Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
- M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
- Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-97, September.
- Posner, R.A. & Rasmusen, E., 1998.
"Creating and Enforcing Norms, with Special Reference to Sanctions,"
98-005, Indiana - Center for Econometric Model Research.
- Richard Posner & Eric Rasmusen, 1999. "Creating and Enforcing Norms, With Special Reference to Sanctions," Law and Economics 9907004, EconWPA.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "A note on the optimal use of nonmonetary sanctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 245-247, July.
- Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
- Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.