Economics as a Moral Science

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Abstract

Economists frequently make judgments about economic welfare, but there is today little discussion of the foundations of welfare economics. It is assumed either that there is unanimity of interests, or that there is general acceptance of utilitarianism. This means that economics cannot address many key policy issues and that important differences in ethical views cannot be recognized. This paper argues that it is a legitimate exercise of economic analysis to examine the consequences of different ethical positions, taking case studies of employment as a macroeconomic objective, and the role of capabilities in the measurement of economic performance.

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