Co-edited with Jennifer A. Baker, Oxford University Press, 2016
While ethics has been an integral part of economics since the days of Adam Smith (if not Aristotle), many modern economists dismiss ethical concerns in favor of increasing formal mathematical and computational methods. But recent financial crises in the real world have reignited discussions of the importance of ethics to economics, including growing calls for a new approach to incorporating moral philosophy in economic theory, practice, and policy. Ironically, it is the ethics of virtue advocated by Aristotle and Adam Smith that may lead to the most promising way to developing an economics that emphasizes the virtues, character, and judgment of the agents it models.
In Economics and the Virtues, editors Jennifer A. Baker and Mark D. White have brought together fifteen leading scholars in economics and philosophy to offer fresh perspectives on integrating virtue into economics. The first section covers five major thinkers and schools in the virtue tradition, tracing historical connections and suggesting new areas of cooperation. The second section applies the ethics of virtue to modern economic theory, delving into its current practices and methodology to suggest areas for integration with moral philosophy. Finally, the third section addresses specific topics such as markets, profits, and justice in the context of virtue and vice, offering valuable applications of virtue to economics.
With insights that are novel as well as rooted in time-tested ethical thought, Economics and the Virtues will be of interest to economists, philosophers, and other scholars in the social sciences and humanities, as well as professionals and policymakers in the fields of economics and finance, and makes an invaluable contribution to the ongoing discussion over the role of ethics in economics.
"Twentieth century economics sought rigour in models of rational choice, thereby bracketing concern with the goods that economic action can seek or undermine, and distancing economics from ethics. Economics and the Virtues is a rich and rewarding collection that brings together stimulating accounts of this loss and of some possibilities for retrieval. It explores classical accounts of the virtues, and argues that they remain essential not only to character but to culture, including the culture of markets."
Onora O'Neill, Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve
and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge
"What kinds of moral habits do markets engender? Does capitalism corrupt, or does it promote trust, cooperation, and the development of human excellence? Can economists really make sense of human behavior without paying attention to questions of character? Jennifer A. Baker and Mark D. White's fascinating volume assembles a wide-ranging roster of scholars who lay out the best current thinking on these questions in erudite yet readable prose. It turns out that economists do have much to learn from the rich moral psychology of Aristotle, the Stoics, Adam Smith, and Kant. It turns out that markets aren't so bad for the soul. This is an indispensable collection for anyone interested in moral psychology, economic theory, or the morality of markets"
Will Wilkinson, Vice President for Policy, Niskanen Center
and former writer for The Economist
Adam Gurri, "Ancient Wisdom and Modern Toolkits: A Review of Economics and the Virtues," Sweet Talk, January 16, 2016
"...the collection is a valuable source of insight, especially for economists used to operating within only one framework. For anyone looking to enrich their economic analysis with insights from frameworks that have been discussed for thousands of years, the essays in this book are an excellent place to start."
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part I: Approaches to Virtue and Economics
Chapter 1 Aristotelian Virtue Ethics and Economic Rationality, Christian U. Becker
Chapter 2 The Epicureans on Happiness, Wealth, and the Deviant Craft of Property Management, Tim O'Keefe
Chapter 3 Economic Good as Indifferent: The Stoics' Radical Approach, Jennifer A. Baker
Chapter 4 Adam Smith on Virtue, Prosperity, and Justice, James Otteson
Chapter 5 The Virtues of a Kantian Economics, Mark D. White
Part II: Virtue and Economics in Theory
Chapter 6 On Virtue Economics, Michael Baurmann and Geoffrey Brennan
Chapter 7 The Separation of Economics from Virtue: A Historical-Conceptual Introduction, Eric Schliesser
Chapter 8 The Space Between Choice and Our Models of It: Practical Wisdom and Normative Economics, Andrew Yuengert
Part III: Virtue and Economics in Practice
Chapter 9 Virtues of Productivity versus Technicist Rationality, Christine Swanton
Chapter 10 Virtues as Social Capital, David C. Rose
Chapter 11 Can Trust, Reciprocity, and Friendships Survive Contact with the Market?, Seung (Ginny) Choi and Virgil Storr
Chapter 12 Do Markets Corrupt?, Jason Brennan