Books to read- Ethics and Economics. New Perspectives

BOOK: Ethics and Economics. New Perspectives. Edited by Mark White and Irene van Staveren.   London: Routledge, 2010,

Since the days of Adam Smith, ethics and economics have been closely intertwined. Indeed, They  were nominally separated only with the advent of neoclassical economics. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the cutting edge of interdisciplinary research between ethics and economics.  A wide range of philosophical perspectives is offered, drawing from the classic writings of Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, and the ancient Stoics, to that of current scholars such as Amartya Sen. The scope of the book involves broad methodological issues in economics, besides topics regarding theory and modeling, and  discussions of the proper role of markets and of policy matters.

As the editors highlight, all the chapters make  ethical presuppositions and sources clear in order to provide a more solid foundation for their ethical-economic analysis. The book features eleven essays by leading scholars in economics and philosophy who argue for a renewal of the bond between the two disciplines:

  • “The ‘Dismal Science’ – Still?,” from Mark Lutz.
  •  “Communitarianism and the Market: A Paradox”, from Irene van Staveren
  •  “Not by P Alone: A Virtuous Economy,” form Deirdre McCloskey.
  • “Virtue and Behavior” from Jennifer Anne Baker.
  • “Freedom, Values and Sen: Towards a Morally Enriched Classical Economic Theory,” from Vivian Walsh.
  •  “Pareto, Consent, and Respect for Dignity: A Kantian Perspective” from Mark D. White.
  • “Identity and Individual Economic Agents: A Narrative Approach,” form John B. Davis.
  •  “Adam Smith on Instincts, Affection, and Informal Learning: Proximate Mechanisms in Multilevel Selection.”  from Jonathan Wight.
  •  “Two Views of Corruption and Democracy” from Mozaffar Qizilbash.
  • “From ‘Hume’s Law’ to Problem- and Policy-Analysis for Human Development,” from Des Gasper.
  •  “The ‘Efficiency’ of Equity”  from Stephan Klasen.

The book is certainly an important resource for scholars in both fields. It has been  published as a combination of special issues organized by Review of Political Economy and Review of Social Economy.


van Staveren, and Mark White, ‘Introduction’, in Mark White and Irene van Staveren (ed) Ethics and Economics. New Perspectives. London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 1-5.

Book review

1 comment
  1. Stuart Birks said:

    Deirdre McCloskey has been arguing for a broader approach to ethics in economics, drawing on classical and religious virtues. In that context, she considers mainstream economics to be focusing solely on prudence. It is therefore very narrow and restrictive and should be broadened.
    A key diagram can be found, along with some discussion of her position, in her piece, “Virtues lost: How it happened and why we can’t live without them” at:
    She is drawing on the content of her book, McCloskey, D. N. (2006). The bourgeois virtues: ethics for an age of commerce. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. This is the first of a planned trilogy. The second book is already published (McCloskey, D. N. (2010). Bourgeois dignity: why economics can’t explain the modern world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press), and the third should be available in a year or so.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: