The Economics of Ethics and the Ethics of Economics

The Economics of Ethics and the Ethics of Economics

Values, Markets and the State

Edited by Geoffrey Brennan and Giuseppe Eusepi

This book makes a rational and eloquent case for the closer integration of ethics and economics. It expands upon themes concerned with esteem, self-esteem, emotional bonding between agents, expressive concerns, and moral requirements.

Chapter 4: Conceptual Confusions, Ethics and Economics

Hartmut Kliemt

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory, politics and public policy, political economy, public choice


Hartmut Kliemt Introduction and overview The neoclassical economist tends to believe that rational normative argument is confined to pointing out means–ends relationships. The ends must be those of somebody, and a rational normative argument is valid relative to given ends, aims or values shared by the addressee of the argument. Beyond this kind of justificatory relativism economists tend to subscribe to the metaphysical or ontological thesis that there are no objective values. This in turn leads to noncognitivism since nothing can be known about what does not exist. Such an epistemological view about the structure of the world or at least the structure of appearance is often mixed up with justificatory relativism. But the two positions are distinct. At least conceivably, somebody could believe that there are some objective values in the world whose presence or absence could be ascertained like, say, the presence or absence of colors (secondary qualities), and at the same time maintain that whatever rationally compelling force a normative argument might have is relative to given ends, aims or values of the addressee of the argument. The economist will typically believe that what matters is the assent of the addressee of the argument to some basic value statement or other. To the extent that the assent will not be forthcoming the economist as justificatory relativist can offer no rationally compelling argument in terms of given aims, ends or values of the addressee of the argument. His (or her) standard of a valid argument is not...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information