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Economics within a Pluralist Ethical Tradition

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Ethical pluralism is the recognition that multiple ethical frameworks operate in social settings to solve problems of moral hazard. In particular, non-consequentialist considerations of duty and virtue operate to restrain self-interest and lower transaction costs in exchange, such as when asymmetric information exists. Positive economics has tended to rely exclusively on a behavioral model that assumes utility maximization, but this approach fails to give credit to the neglected foundations of duty and virtue. Consequences, duties, and virtues all play a role in sustaining businesses, for example, and in promoting the search for truth within the economic research community. Normative welfare economics can also benefit from understanding vertical and horizontal pluralism.
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Keywords: A11; A13; Adam Smith; ethics; instincts; pluralism; social values

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, 23173, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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