Values, Markets and the State
Edited by Geoffrey Brennan and Giuseppe Eusepi
Introduction: Ethics vs Economics – In Praise of the ‘Disciplined’ Life?
Geoffrey Brennan and Giuseppe Eusepi On the division of intellectual labour When Adam Smith first conceived the intellectual enterprise of which The Wealth of Nations is perhaps the most famous part, he was Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. In this sense, taking The Wealth of Nations as the point of departure for the study of economics as a separate academic discipline, economics could reasonably be said to have been born ‘out of ethics’. If so, however, we economists have moved some distance from the family home over the intervening 230 years. The traffic between economics and ethics at the academic level these days is, if not negligible, rather thin and cordially regarded on both sides of the divide as an eccentric occupation, even when practised by respected professionals. Imagine for example that you are a young economist seeking employment at one of the better US universities. In the preliminary interview at the Annual Meetings (a standard part of the job market process), you are likely to be asked about your ‘fields’. And suppose, having listed your relevant mainstream areas of interest – say, public economics, and applied microeconomics with perhaps a subsidiary competence in labour (economics) – you confess to a serious interest in moral philosophy. Suppose that, in an even more reckless burst of candour, you say that would like to do some of your work at the intersection between moral philosophy and economics. Predict, on this basis, your chances of being asked to visit the hiring...