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Are Economists Basically Immoral? A defense of ethical economicsheyne's

A Research Annual

ISBN: 978-0-85724-059-0, eISBN: 978-0-85724-060-6

Publication date: 25 June 2010


In the title essay of the volume, Heyne wonders why ethicists get so bothered by economists who make claims like, “polluting activities ought to be shifted from developed to less developed countries.”1 And in a keen rhetorical move – one that Heyne employs throughout the volume – he shows how all of the usual answers to this question merely hide a deeper problem. Heyne suggests the real issue is that most ethicists assume “a social system that's completely known and completely controllable” (p. 5). Consequently, the problem most ethicists have with economics is that “economic analysis is rooted,” according to Heyne, “in the fact that economists specialize in the analysis of social systems that no one controls and that produce results that no one intended” (p. 5). Heyne sees that ethicists dogmatically hold to an ideal of the good in which people act so as to intend the good of others. Such a view demands that people act only in social systems where they personally know other people's needs or else that people are assumed to have a God-like omniscience that will allow them to know everyone's needs.


Blosser, J. (2010), " Are Economists Basically Immoral? A defense of ethical economicsheyne's", Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 28 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 369-379.



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