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Economics and the VirtuesBuilding a New Moral Foundation$
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Jennifer A. Baker and Mark D. White

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701392.001.0001

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Virtues as Social Capital

Virtues as Social Capital

(p.202) Chapter 10 Virtues as Social Capital
Economics and the Virtues

David C. Rose

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the nature of those virtues that are the most important for supporting economic activity. Virtues are considered as forms of human capital to the extent they are instrumental to improving an individual’s personal quality of life. Virtues are divided into three categories: prudential, positive, and negative. The negative virtues are shown to be especially important for sustaining high-trust societies and, as such, are also properly viewed as social capital. The negative virtues are shown to also constitute public goods and, as such, are prone to inadequate investment. In addition to deepening our understanding of the role that virtues in general play in the development and operation of free-market economies, this exercise helps explain why most societies are not flourishing free-market societies. This exercise also calls into question conventional approaches to moral education, which do not stress the negative virtues.

Keywords:   virtues, negative virtues, trust, human capital, social capital, public goods

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