Economics, Morality, and Method



Concerns about equity and global justice play a prominent role in contemporary debates on persistent poverty, inequality, and uneven development. Widespread dissatisfaction with development outcomes has led to a re-examination of how we understand development, what drives it, and how we can make it fair. This article begins with a discussion of some key economic theories influencing economic geography, including both equilibrium- and disequilibrium-based theories. These economic theories offer explanations of what drives economic growth, but they provided a limited view of development in that they focus on material dimensions of poverty and largely avoid normative judgments of justice and fairness. The second part of the article focuses on some influential moral and political philosophers who explicitly address issues of distributional justice and fairness and also argue for the consideration of non-monetary factors in assessing poverty and inequality. The article concludes with some thoughts on how to attain the methodological flexibility and rigor to work with more complex concepts of development. In particular, mixed methods research designs are promoted as a useful approach for those rethinking the concept of uneven development and how to study it. Mixed methodologies can make economic geography more policy relevant in a world concerned with global justice.