Book

The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

David C. Rose

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199781744
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919116 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199781744.001.0001
The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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This book explains why moral beliefs can and likely do play an important role in the development and operation of market economies. It shows why the maximization of general prosperity requires that people genuinely trust others—even others whom they know don’t particularly care about them. It then identifies characteristics that moral beliefs must have for people to trust others even when there is no chance of detection and no possibility of harming anyone. It shows that when moral beliefs with these characteristics are held by a sufficiently high proportion of the population, a high-trust society emerges that supports maximum cooperation and creativity while permitting honest competition at the same time. The required characteristics are not tied to any specific religious narrative and have nothing to do with the moral earnestness of individuals or the set of moral values. What really matters is how moral beliefs affect the way people think about morality. The required characteristics are based on abstract ideas that must be learned, so they are matters of culture, not genes, and are therefore potentially capable of explaining differences in material success across human societies. This work has many theoretical and empirical implications including but not limited to social capital theory and trust-based economic experiments.

Keywords: culture; economic experiments; empathy; ethics; institutions; opportunism; moral beliefs; social capital; transaction costs; trust

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Opportunism in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Group Size in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Moral Values in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Harm-Based Moral Restraint in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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The Empathy Problem in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Duty-Based Moral Restraint in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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The Moral Foundation in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Trust in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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Culture in The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior

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