On Ethics and Economics
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On Ethics and Economics

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In this elegant critique, Amartya Sen argues that a closer contact between welfare economics and modern ethical studies can substantively enrich and benefit both disciplines.He argues further that even predictive and descriptive economics can be helped by making more room for welfare economic considerations in the explanation of behavior, especially in production relations, which inevitably involve problems of cooperation as well as conflict. The concept of rationality of behaviour is thoroughly proved in this context, with particular attention paid to social interdependence and internal tensions within consequentialist reasoning. In developing his general theme, Sen also investigates some related matters: the misinterpretation of Adam Smith's views on the role of self-seeking: the plausibility of an objectivist approach that attaches importance to subjective evaluations: and the admissibility of incompleteness and of 'inconsistencies' in the form of overcompleteness in rational evaluation. Sen also explores the role and importance of freedom in assessing well-being as well as choice. Sen's contributions to economics and ethics have greatly strengthened the theoretical bases of both disciplines: this appraisal of the connections between the two subjects and their possible development will be welcomed for the clarity and depth it contributes to the debate. These essays are based on the Royer Lectures delivered at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 148 pages
  • 139.7 x 218.44 x 12.7mm | 158.76g
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • BLACKWELL PUBLISHERS
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0
  • 0631164014
  • 9780631164012
  • 263,150

About Amartya K. Sen

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. He is affiliated with the Departments of Economics and Philosophy.

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Back cover copy

In this elegant critique, Amartya Sen argues that a closer contact between welfare economics and modern ethical studies can substantively enrich and benefit both disciplines. He argues further that even predictive and descriptive economics can be helped by making more room for welfare economic considerations in the explanation of behavior, especially in production relations, which inevitably involve problems of cooperation as well as conflict. The concept of rationality of behaviour is thoroughly proved in this context, with particular attention paid to social interdependence and internal tensions within consequentialist reasoning. In developing his general theme, Sen also investigates some related matters; the misinterpretation of Adam Smith's views on the role of self-seeking; the plausibility of an objectivist approach that attaches importance to subjective evaluations; and the admissibility of incompleteness and of 'inconsistencies' in the form of overcompleteness in rational evaluation. Sen also explores the role and importance of freedom in assessing well-being as well as choice. Sen's contributions to economics and ethics have greatly strengthened the theoretical bases of both disciplines; this appraisal of the connections between the two subjects and their possible development will be welcomed for the clarity and depth it contributes to the debate. These essays are based on the Royer Lectures delivered at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Review quote

"Sen is one of the true pioneers in modern economics. He has, in effect, created a new branch of the subject... which might one day change mainstream economics beyond recognition." The Economist "Professor Sen's thoughts on both philosophy and economics are not only highly original but they are ... presented with a compelling and consummate literary skill." Times Higher Education Supplement "Sen has never acknowledged a boundary between economics and ethics. He brings philosophical arguments to bear where they are needed in economics, and combines them skillfully with formal analysis." London Review of Books

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Table of contents

Foreword: John M. Letiche. Preface. 1. Economic Behaviour and Moral Sentiments. Two Origins. Achievements and Weakness. Economic Behaviour and Rationality. Rationality as Consistency. Self-interest and Rational Behaviour. Adam Smith and Self-interest. 2. Economic Judgements and Moral Philosophy. Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility. Pareto Optimality and Economic Efficiency. Utility, Pareto Optimality and Welfarism. Well-being and Agency. Valuing and Value. Agency and Well-being: Distinction and Interdependence. Utility and Well-being. Achievements, Freedom and Rights. Self-interest and Welfare Economics. Rights and Freedom. 3. Freedom and Consequences. Well-being, Agency and Freedom. Plurality and Evaluation. Incompletenes and Overcompleteness. Conflicts and Impasse. Rights and Consequence. Consequential Assessment and Deontology. Ethics and Economics. Welfare, Goals and Choices. Conduct, Ethics and Economics. References. Author Index. Subject Index.

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