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Economics in Search of a Moral Philosophy (Keynote Paper)

Corresponding Author : Wahiduddin Mahmud (

Authors : Wahiduddin Mahmud (

Keywords : Economics, Moral Philosophy

Abstract :

Moral philosophy as a discipline is not regarded as a strong point of academic economists. Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing; and it is widely believed that he was pointing towards economists. Carlyle held a similar dim view of economics as a discipline when he termed it as a dismal science. Economists, in their turn, feel wrongly accused, for they are usually not the cause of dismal happenings but simply the messengers. The strongest link between economics and the real world has always been politics, which is why economics used to be called “political economy”, for it is the politicians who make the choice about how to put economics into practice. Economists also cannot help if people in their economic dealings act selfishly. As Adam Smith, in one of his famous statements, warned that businessmen seldom meet without plotting against the consumer. The purpose of this essay is to review the state of economics as a discipline in light of how and to what extent ethical considerations and the precepts of moral philosophy affect the theory and application of economics.

Published on December 30th, 2021 in Vol 32, No 2, 2021 (Special Issue on Bangladesh Development Perspectives : Issues of Economic Justic, Social Sciences