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date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an account of the contemporary economist's model of human agency in a market setting and of the ways in which individual choices are related to collective behavior in the market place. It also sketches the ways in which the model has been adapted to accommodate decision making in non-market environments. It builds on the model to offer an account of the ethical foundations of modern economics. Although welfare economics is thought to be insensitive to the language of rights, this article shows that contemporary economists have incorporated rights in their ethics. It describes the way ideas of human rights and human goods can be and have been subsumed by economists under an overarching notion of human well-being. Furthermore, it draws a distinction between the “constituents” and “determinants” of well-being. Whereas ethicists are temperamentally drawn to the constituents, economists study the determinants.

Keywords: human agency, non-market environments, modern economics, welfare economics, human rights, human goods

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