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Incorporating Ethics into Economics: Problems and Possibilities

  • Donna Rowen

    ()

  • Michael Dietrich

    ()

    (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)

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.

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Paper provided by The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2004006.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision: Jul 2004
Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2004006
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  1. Amartya Sen, 1996. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1766, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. ., 2004. "K," Chapters, in: An Eponymous Dictionary of Economics, chapter 11 Edward Elgar.
  5. 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.
  6. Lanse Minkler & Thomas Miceli, 2004. "Lying, Integrity, and Cooperation," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(1), pages 27-50.
  7. Brennan, Timothy J., 1993. "The Futility of Multiple Utility," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 155-164, April.
  8. 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.
  9. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Etzioni, Amitai, 1986. "The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 159-184, October.
  12. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1994. "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 1-9, May.
  13. Sen, Amartya, 1991. "Utility: Ideas and Terminology," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 277-283, October.
  14. Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 2002. "Rationality, comparability and maximization," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 141-156, April.
  15. Broome, John, 1991. "A Reply to Sen," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 285-287, October.
  16. Brennan, Timothy J., 1989. "A Methodological Assessment of Multiple Utility Frameworks," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 189-208, October.
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