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Does Studying Ethics Affect Moral Views? An Application to Distributive Justice

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  • Konow, James

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed a rapid increase in initiatives to expand ethics instruction in higher education. Numerous empirical studies have examined the possible effects on students of discipline-based ethics instruction, such business ethics and medical ethics. Nevertheless, the largest share of college ethics instruction has traditionally fallen to philosophy departments, and there is a paucity of empirical research on the individual effects of that approach. This paper examines possible effects of exposure to readings and lectures in mandatory philosophy classes on student views of morality. Specifically, it focuses on an ethical topic of importance to both economics and philosophy, viz., economic (or distributive) justice. The questionnaire study is designed to avoid features suspected of generating false positives in past research while calibrating the measurement so as to increase the likelihood of detecting even a modest true effect. The results provide little evidence that the philosophical ethics approach studied here systematically affects the fairness views of students. The possible implications for future research and for ethics instruction are briefly discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Konow, James, 2016. "Does Studying Ethics Affect Moral Views? An Application to Distributive Justice," MPRA Paper 75377, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:75377
    as

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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/75377/1/MPRA_paper_75377.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Konow, James, 2001. "Fair and square: the four sides of distributive justice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-164, October.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2003. "Are Political Economists Selfish and Indoctrinated? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 448-462, July.
    3. Faravelli, Marco, 2007. "How context matters: A survey based experiment on distributive justice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1399-1422, August.
    4. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    5. Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, 2013. "Reclaiming Virtue Ethics for Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 141-164, Fall.
    6. Michael J. Sandel, 2013. "Market Reasoning as Moral Reasoning: Why Economists Should Re-engage with Political Philosophy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 121-140, Fall.
    7. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    8. repec:noj:journl:v:38:y:2013:p:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
    10. Konow, James, 1996. "A positive theory of economic fairness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 13-35, October.
    11. Astri Drange Hole, 2013. "How do economists differ from others in distributive situations?," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 38, pages 1-4.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    ethics education; fairness; philosophy;

    JEL classification:

    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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