The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior, Hardback Book



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 those 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 showsthat 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 anyspecific 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 implicationsincluding but not limited to social capital theory and trust-based economic experiments.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288 pages, 4 illustrations
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Economic theory & philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780199781744



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