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The Market, Utilitarianism and The Corruption Argument (Seminar)
November 8, 2017 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Some philosophers argue that if market reasoning exceeds certain limits it may ‘corrupt’ certain cherished values; and the tendency of modern economics to encourage such ‘corruption’ has its roots in its normative foundations. Michael Sandel goes further and suggests that this tendency can be traced to utilitarian reasoning. I argue that the desire to restrict the scope of economics can be found in the utilitarian origins of neo-classical economics in the work of William Stanley Jevons and that, to this degree, the desire to apply economics and market reasoning to all human behavior does not lie in its utilitarian heritage. The argument that market reasoning may ‘corrupt’ various values has gained credence from the work of market enthusiasts like Gary Becker but does not apply to the traditional framework of welfare economics. Furthermore, if economists adopt the informed desire or preference view of welfare endorsed by some utilitarians, certain arguments advanced by these philosophers can be rebutted.
About the speaker
Mozaffar Qizilbash is Professor in the department of Economics at York. His research has focused primarily on well-being in economics, philosophy, and development economics. He has also written on capability and well-being, rationality, vagueness, human development and utilitarianism.