Facts and Values in Modern Economics

Partha Dasgupta

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780195189254
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Facts and Values in Modern Economics

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This chapter offers an account of the contemporary economist's model of human agency in a market setting and of the ways in which individual choices are related to collective behavior in the market place. It also sketches the ways in which the model has been adapted to accommodate decision making in non-market environments. It builds on the model to offer an account of the ethical foundations of modern economics. Although welfare economics is thought to be insensitive to the language of rights, this article shows that contemporary economists have incorporated rights in their ethics. It describes the way ideas of human rights and human goods can be and have been subsumed by economists under an overarching notion of human well-being. Furthermore, it draws a distinction between the “constituents” and “determinants” of well-being. Whereas ethicists are temperamentally drawn to the constituents, economists study the determinants.

Keywords: human agency; non-market environments; modern economics; welfare economics; human rights; human goods

Article.  30624 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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