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On the centrality of human value

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The financial crash of 2008 following the selling of fictitious derivatives was a crisis of both rationality and values whose aftermath has thrown the legitimation of deregulated markets, and governments, into question. This paper critiques the Becker metaphor of human capital and submits that human value is central to and the fulcrum of both economic and social values. It illustrates that Hume and Adam Smith directly countered the Hobbesian hypothesis that human nature is based only on self-interest, distinguishes market values from social values, explicit from implicit values and parallels Sen in adopting an ordinal ranking of what people value rather than a search for cardinality. It draws on cognitive psychology, neural research, revealed preference theory and a principle of implicit verification. It also outlines implications for what Adam Smith centrally valued as concern for the welfare of the whole of society.
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Keywords: implicit; legitimation; preferences; tacit; values; verification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Economics, CCIM, CEIS UC, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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