Within the discussion of ethics and economics some have considered designing a code of ethics for economists. But the idea of such a code is potentially problematic from a pluralist standpoint. Some possibilities are discussed here to show that any code concerning the behaviour of economists presumes a particular view of human nature and thus of professionalism. Further, issues of socio-economic power in the profession pose problems for the interpretation and implementation of some possible principles, notably those referring to standards of competence and truth-seeking. It is therefore concluded that any code of ethics should take the form of general guidelines, with primacy given to the ethics of pluralism: tolerance, even-handedness and open-mindedness, on which the interpretation of all other ethical considerations rests.
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In presenting the case for professional economic ethics over the past two years, since the publication of The Economist's Oath
, I've encountered more scepticism among heterodox economists on the left than from those on the right. Left-leaning economists argue inter alia
that the project to establish a field of professional economic ethics is naïve
, since economists are hardly to be dissuaded from doing wrong by the existence of a code of conduct; off target
, since professional ethics doesn't address the main failures of economics and economists; and as a consequence of all that, that professional economic ethics is wrong-headed
, at least for heterodox economists, since it deflects our attention away from the real problems in our profession.
The left's scepticism regarding professional economic ethics, while not lacking merit, is mistaken in central respects. Not least, heterodox economists hold too narrow a view of the scope of professional economic ethics; and they tend to conflate the field with a code of conduct. Once we correct these errors, we come to see that heterodox economists should be at the forefront of the push for professional ethics in economics. The paper concludes by examining what professional economic ethics might imply for economic pedagogy.
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In a letter to Engels (24 August 1867), Marx says that the best of his book (Capital) are (i) the “dual character of the labour embodied in commodities” and (ii) the surplus value theory. Marx's vindication of first point is the subject of the present article.1 We contend that the « dual character of the labour embodied in commodities » is a fundamental and specific property of a commodity society. Marx is right when he calls our attention to it...
In this work we analyse the main interpretations of ownership in Original Institutional Economics (OIE) and their links with pragmatist psychology and psychoanalysis.
We consider Thorstein Veblen's notion of ownership as a relation of possession of persons, and John R.Commons's distinction between “corporeal” and “intangible” property, that marks the shift from a material possession of goods and arbitrary power over the workers to the development of human faculties in a more participatory environment. For space reasons we do not address other contributions developed both by the OIE and by the New Institutional Economics.
We then consider a number of contributions of pragmatist social psychology and psychoanalysis that, although not dealing directly with the notion of ownership, can cast light not only on the private and “material“ aspects of ownership but also on its collective and “relational aspects”.
The reason why we consider it useful to address different perspectives is that, as observed by the famous sociologist Karl Mannheim (1952), a landscape can be seen only from a determined perspective and without perspective there is no landscape. Hence, observing a landscape (or phenomenon) from different angles (or disciplines) can help to acquire a much clearer insight into the features of the various perspectives. And this is one of the main advantage of a pluralist approach to the study of economic and social phenomena, also aimed at overcoming the fragmentation so often present in social sciences. In this light, the interpretative theories that we address, however different in many respects, present notable complementarities, in the sense that the aspects more overlooked by some are more completely considered by the others. In our work, these different but complementary notions of ownership can help illuminate the manifold aspects of human relations, also with a view to provide a more tailored policy action for the solution of their more problematic aspects.
The article discusses the concepts of altruism and prosocial behavior and their importance in interdisciplinary studies of behavioral economics. The basic theoretical models and concepts of altruism in Behavioral Economics are reviewed. Altruism is shown to be a hidden and complicated form of selfishness. In essence, altruism and prosociality are therefore not fundamentally different concepts: both are ultimately self-oriented. In the article, we take the Christian worldview and compare altruism with Christian love and discuss their differences and the importance of their theoretical and practical implications. We show that altruism and Christian love are not only diverse but contradictory concepts, which in our opinion is of great importance at least in terms of promoting a well-being of human society.