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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 11 May 2021

Why Economics Needs Ethical Theory

Why Economics Needs Ethical Theory

(p.7) Chapter 1 Why Economics Needs Ethical Theory
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen

John Broome (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Amartya Sen has worked tirelessly to establish the importance of ethics in economics. This chapter adds a little to his arguments. Whenever economics tries to determine how the economy ought to be structured or managed, it makes an ethical judgement. But economists use various devices to hide from themselves their need for ethical theory. The chapter describes and criticizes some of their devices. The main one is to found an account of value on people's preferences. In this way, economists hope to avoid making judgements of value themselves, but instead leave them to the people. However, this device entails implausible ethical commitments of its own. Economists need to found their recommendations on their best ethical judgements. They must make their judgements explicit, and they must be ready to defend them with good arguments.

Keywords:   democracy, empirical ethics, ethics, existence value, normativity, preferences and value, value of life, welfare economics, willingness to pay

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