Virtues and Economics

Virtues and Economics

Springer launches a new book series entitled „Virtues and Economics”. Series editors are Peter Rona, (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford) and Laszlo Zsolnai.           

The series is dedicated to virtue ethics and economics. The goal is to help develop a virtue-based economic theory which connects virtues with the contents of economic activities of individuals, unincorporated and incorporated economic agents. The primary context is Catholic Social Teaching but other faith traditions (especially Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism) will also be explored for their construction of virtues in economic action. Special attention will be made to regulatory and policy issues in promoting economic justice.

Economics as a Moral Science

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Peter Rona & Laszlo Zsolnai (eds.) Economics as a Moral Science. Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

The book is an attempt to reclaim economics as a moral science. It argues that ethics is a relevant aspect of all levels of economic activity, from individual and organizational to societal and global. Taking ethical considerations into account is needed in explaining and predicting the behavior of economic agents as well as in evaluating and designing economic policies and mechanisms. The book employs the personalist approach that sees human persons with free will and conscience as the basic agents of economic life and defines human flourishing as the final end of economic activities.

Issues and Themes in Moral Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Issues and Themes in Moral Economics.' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

This paper summarizes the main issues and themes in the development of moral economics. Zamagni suggests that we can harness market interactions by re-defining the market in a non-individualistic way, as a network of mutually beneficial relations, along the lines suggested by the civil economy paradigm. Bouckaert underlines that thinking of economics as a relational dynamic opens a space for human creativity without losing the embeddedness in a system of meaning and purpose.

Economic Rationality versus Human Reason

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Economic Rationality versus Human Reason .' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

First the paper analyses the rationality assumptions of mainstream economics and shows that they are empirically misleading and normatively inadequate. It argues that the world ruled by self-interest based rationality of economic actors leads to ’unreason’ from a wider ecological and human perspective. The paper illuminates that human reason requires a different way of economic functioning which implies a redefinition of the final goal economizing.

It is argued that the main goal of economic activities should not be profit-making but providing right livelihood for people. Amartya Sen suggests that economic reason can be understood as reasonableness of preferences, choices and actions. Reason requires that economic activities are achieved in ecological, future-respecting and pro-social ways. Intrinsically motivated economic agents who balance their attention and concerns across diverse value-dimensions are able to do this and show the viability of true economic reason under the circumstances of present day “rationally foolish” economic world.

Agenda for Future Research and Action

Peter Rona, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Agenda for Future Research and Action.' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

This paper is about the restoration of economics as a moral science. It is argued that economics, unlike the natural sciences, does not have an ontologically objective subject, because economic life, unlike matter, is the product of human intentionality. Economic phenomena are always necessarily incommensurate because they occur in historical time and space.

People make their economic decisions by employing practical knowledge (or wisdom). Practical knowledge is the human capacity for the reflective and critical  evaluation of our reasons for action. It is the totality of our capacities – including feelings, tastes,  experience, impulses and rational reasoning – ordered and filtered to critically evaluate  sources of our lives we engage and deploy in making decisions. Accordingly, economics is a form of practical knowledge or reason.

Gift and gratuitousness are basic facts of human life. Persons, communities and organizations are endowed with natural, social, cultural and spiritual wealth as free gift. In their economic functioning they should acknowledge, preserve and enrich their material and non-material heritage. The adequate response to gratuitous giving is gratefulness and generosity toward those who provided the gift.