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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Assimilating ethics to the economic way of thinking is a mistake, and I explain an alternative in this chapter. Applying virtue ethics to economics allows us to explain how economic reasoning ought to be related to our own agency. With virtue ethics, we can endorse some market norms for their contribution to general welfare and ethically critique any particular market norm on the basis of ethics. Concepts from virtue ethics can resolve established tensions between ethics and economics. Oikeiosis, or standard moral development, leaves room, in an account of virtue, for empirical discoveries (such as those economists themselves find) concerning our actual motivations. “Due action” is behavior economists can recommend, without expectations of virtue. And finally, the category of “moral indifferents” allows us to regard economics as the study of indifferents: crucial but unmoralized inputs to our collective lives.

Keywords: virtue, virtue ethics, practical rationality, economic way of thinking, economic methodology, moral psychology, moral motivation, Aristotle, Mandeville

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