Stefanie Haeffele and Virgil Henry Storr
Over time, the fields of economics and ethics have become more distinct with economics focusing on the rationality of actors, the incentives they face, and the outcomes of interacting within an amoral market setting. However, in the real world, economics and ethics are more interconnected. Humans are social and ethical beings regardless of setting. Recent studies have shown that individuals reward trustworthiness, punish dishonesty, and can develop meaningful social bonds within markets. Economists, seeking to better understand the world, should incorporate ethics into their economics. We argue that Adam Smith is an exemplar of pursuing a fuller approach to social science, and utilize his arguments on both economics and ethics to advance a study of ethical markets.
Ryan Neil Langrill and Virgil Henry Storr
Contemporary Austrian economics and the new economic sociology have much in common. First, they share intellectual influences, especially Max Weber. Second, they offer similar critiques of neoclassical economics, and both stress the importance of Verstehen. Third, they have complementary conceptions of rational action and of the role of social institutions in shaping rational action. Specifically, these schools agree on a number of key theoretical propositions and empirical approaches, including but not limited to the notions that economic institutions are socially constructed and that actors are neither social automatons nor asocial creatures (actors are embedded). Although there has been some effort to bring the two traditions together because of these similarities between them, more can be done to bring these schools into conversation with each other. This chapter seeks to tease out the connections between the two schools and discuss possible gains from trade between them.
There has been a revolution in how economists treat the subject of happiness: in happiness measurement, in new economic insights related to happiness, and in the area of policy consequences. This has the potential to set up a stimulating dialogue. This chapter works through one possible imaginary exchange of views between economists and theologians, beginning with the new awareness in economics of the relative failure of economic growth to make people happy. Not surprisingly, the immediate response of the theologian to this insight is, “We know!” Theologians have always been clear about the limitations of material growth in providing happiness. The instinct of the theologian is then to argue that this supports his or her claim that true happiness can only be found in God. Thus far, the exchange has been quite predictable. However, the conversation need not end there. The economist is able to help the theologian refine and clarify what he or she means by “Christian happiness.”
Gordon Menzies and Donald Hay
The question of human nature and identity is not a common preoccupation of economists. The reasons for this are investigated, and the ways in which a theological understanding of human nature might alter economic analysis are explored. The analysis focuses on: preserving a meaning for the term “selfish”; allowing forms of mutual care which are not “gift exchange”; allowing for a personal identity which values altruistic acts of love; modeling the outcome of the conversion experience; and, using the doctrine of creation to place humans over the natural world as stewards but alongside the natural world as fellow-creatures. The Christian account of human nature, identity, and motivation is not only consistent with some recent empirical work, but gives rise to a picture of human persons which other frameworks must presuppose, sometimes without a clear justification.
This chapter focuses on Hayek’s analysis of morality as an evolved spontaneous order while updating and revising it, taking account of current research and models. While his path-breaking work requires revision, Hayek presents an analysis of a complex adaptive moral order that is far more in tune with current science than are the highly rationalistic analyses of contemporary political philosophy, which often seek to present utopian plans for the perfect justice. Yet, I argue, we need to rethink important claims. Hayek puts great weight on group-level selection to maintain the functionality of the complex adaptive system of social morality, a claim that has been buttressed by the recent work of David Sloan Wilson. I question this, showing how an “invisible hand” can maintain functional cooperation among current humans without strong group-level selection.
Tom Boylan and Paschal O'Gorman
The role of conventions has been an area of increasing interest to writers in the post-Keynesian tradition, particularly over the last thirty years. This has arisen from the reexamination of John Maynard Keynes’s notion of convention in the context of radical uncertainty along with the status of rationality in the face of uncertainty. This chapter discusses some of the principal tenets of Henri Poincaré’s analysis of conventions and relates them to the post-Keynesian methodological agenda, more specifically to provide a Poincaréan defense of the role of conventions in rational decision-making. It argues that this provides an innovative and more adequate philosophical defense of nonergodicity in economic theory, which has become a central axiom of post-Keynesian economics. The chapter first provides an overview of the post-Keynesian literature on uncertainty and conventions arising from Keynes’s employment of the concept. It then outlines the emergence of conventions and conventionalism in philosophy, examines Poincaré’s conventionalism and its relationship with rationality, and considers the implications of Poincaré’s conventionalism for post-Keynesian economics.