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The Virtue Ethics Hypothesis: Is there a nexus between virtues and well-being?

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  • Koch, Christian

Abstract

Why do some people behave pro-socially while others do not? Using an experimental design based on Konow and Earley (JPubE, 2008), I investigate a reason already proposed by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics: He claims that there is a nexus between virtues and well-being and that enduring well-being cannot be achieved by hedonic pleasures and material affluence, but only by virtuous behavior. In order to analyze this hypothesis, I use a within-subject design. Initially, participants answer an elaborated well-being questionnaire and then play six different cooperation games. I examine two questions in connection with the Aristotelian idea: First, do more virtuously behaving subjects report on average higher well-being? Second, if the answer is affirmative, what is the underlying causal relationship? I find a favorable correlation between well-being and virtuous behavior and examine different hypotheses about what leads to virtuous behavior: My experimental data is mostly in line with the hypothesis that virtuous behavior is both a long-run cause as well as a short effect of a specific type of long-run well-being, called eudaimonic well-being. To this extent, I find evidence in favor of a nexus between virtues and well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Koch, Christian, 2013. "The Virtue Ethics Hypothesis: Is there a nexus between virtues and well-being?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80054, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:80054
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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