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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Traditional approaches to understanding morality, through evaluating outcomes, analyzing rules, principles, and duty, and adhering to notions of virtue and character, offer competing but also complementary ways of framing conduct in a social setting. Ethical pluralism is the claim that all three methods are, to some degree, useful to positive economics because each provides distinctive insights into human behavior. Each is also useful in normative economics because a single framework has limitations that are solved by introducing elements from the others. The neoclassical economic approach, concerned ostensibly with outcome goals, must consider how economic agents are motivated by duty and virtue ethics considerations. Adam Smith’s virtue ethics, for example, arise from moral sentiments, not rational calculation. In considering the morality of efficiency, a Paretian approach derives ultimately from Kantian considerations, and the Kaldor-Hicks approach relies on background conditions of human rights and other non-outcome based elements.

Keywords: pluralism, Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, virtue ethics, Pareto, Kaldor-Hicks, efficiency

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