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Incorporating Ethics into Economics: Problems and Possibilities

Author

Listed:
  • Donna Rowen

    ()

  • Michael Dietrich

    () (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)

Abstract

In traditional economics the decision-making process for individuals has effectively no role for ethics as individuals are self-interested. The key concepts in economics which determine the role of ethics in the decision-making process are utility, rationality and methodological individualism and hence how these can be and are formulated and combined determines different roles for ethics in economics. Amitai Etzioni, Amartya Sen and John Broome use different definitions of these concepts and hence find different problems and possibilities for a greater role for ethics in economics. This paper integrates the different approaches of these authors and suggests a general mono-utility framework for incorporating ethics into economics whereby the concept of utility requires adaptation.

Suggested Citation

  • Donna Rowen & Michael Dietrich, 2004. "Incorporating Ethics into Economics: Problems and Possibilities," Working Papers 2004006, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2004006
    as

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    File URL: http://www.shef.ac.uk/content/1/c6/03/91/71/SERP2004006.pdf
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    File URL: http://www.shef.ac.uk/content/1/c6/03/91/71/SERP2004006.pdf
    File Function: Revised version, 2004
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Broome, John, 1991. "A Reply to Sen," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 285-287, October.
    3. Hausman, Daniel M & McPherson, Michael S, 1993. "Taking Ethics Seriously: Economics and Contemporary Moral Philosophy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 671-731, June.
    4. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1994. "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 1-9, May.
    5. Lynne, Gary D. & Casey, C. Franklin, 1998. "Regulation of technology adoption when individuals pursue multiple utility," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 701-719.
    6. Lanse Minkler & Thomas Miceli, 2004. "Lying, Integrity, and Cooperation," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(1), pages 27-50.
    7. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 745-780, July.
    8. Etzioni, Amitai, 1986. "The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 159-184, October.
    9. Becker, Gary S, 1981. "Altruism in the Family and Selfishness in the Market Place," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(189), pages 1-15, February.
    10. Lutz, Mark A., 1993. "The Utility of Multiple Utility: A Comment on Brennan," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 145-154, April.
    11. Brennan, Timothy J., 1989. "A Methodological Assessment of Multiple Utility Frameworks," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 189-208, October.
    12. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    13. Broome,John, 1999. "Ethics out of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521642750.
    14. Brennan, Timothy J., 1993. "The Futility of Multiple Utility," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 155-164, April.
    15. ., 2004. "K," Chapters,in: An Eponymous Dictionary of Economics, chapter 11 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Sen, Amartya, 1991. "Utility: Ideas and Terminology," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 277-283, October.
    17. Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 2002. "Rationality, comparability and maximization," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 141-156, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saha, Malayendu, 2013. "The Ethical Dimensions Of Financial Crisis In The World Of Globalized Finance," MPRA Paper 45565, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Apr 2013.
    2. Federico Marongiu, 2005. "Un análisis de las conductas económicas a la luz de la Ética," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0507001, EconWPA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ethics; Utility; Methodological individualism;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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