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Markets and Morality (On the Economics of Caring for Others) (Essay)

The Cato Journal 2011, Wntr, 31, 1

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Adam Smith was a moral philosopher, and economics clearly began as a discipline concerned with both normative and positive considerations. Over time, however, as economics became more "scientific," positive analysis of the consequences of economic activity increasingly crowded out normative analysis of the morality of that activity. It is now common for economists to boast that economics is "value free." (1) The problem is not with positive economics. Without the ability of economic analysis to make reasonable predictions about the consequences of policies and to provide coherent explanations of observed economic phenomena, there would be no value to economics regardless of the value system applied. But without recognizing that moral values are embodied in economic analysis, economists severely limit their ability to understand economic phenomena and to communicate effectively what they do understand. Furthermore, when economists dismiss the moral dimensions of their discipline, they leave the field to others who have an endless supply of pronouncements on the morality of economics in general, and the market order in particular, that are as logically appalling as they are publicly appealing. Only by coupling positive economics with a willingness to engage in moral discourse can economists use their understanding to effectively defend market arrangements, and the general benefits they provide, against moral sophistries used by politicians and their special-interest clients to justify policies to protect politically favored groups against the discipline of market competition.

Markets and Morality (On the Economics of Caring for Others) (Essay)
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  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Affairs
  • Published: 01 January 2011
  • Publisher: Cato Institute
  • Print Length: 38 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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