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The Great Financial Crisis: an Ethical Rejoinder

  • David Charles Merrill

Extract

The Great Financial Crisis that broke in 2008 and the Great Recession that followed has led many to question the very structure of contemporary economies. Some argue that the economic model of the past forty years is now broken. Criticism has also been directed at the orthodoxies of economics. For example, neoclassical equilibrium economics, the mainstream economics of the day, is accused of failing to understand some of the most basic aspects of the modern economy (debt and money), of supporting policies that have led to the economic breakdown (deregulation), and of failing to see the crisis coming (Bezemer 2012, Keen 2011). Consequently, heterodox thinking in economics is getting a hearing as never before. Heterodox economics offers itself as the requisite radical reconstruction of the science of economics and also proposes policies for the radical reconstruction of the major economics.

Yet to talk of the reconstruction of the modern market economy is at the same time to raise the ethical question: what shape ought the market economy to take? Heterodox economics may acutely analyse the inadequacies of real economies and propose plausible reforms, but as an essentially descriptive science there will be limits on its ability to state what ought to be. Rather, what is required seems to be a systematic prescriptive ethics. In other words, recent events in the world of economics have provided an opening for what ethical philosophy should be best at providing. Determining whether a specific ethical philosophy, to be identified shortly, has the capacity to address the questions raised by heterodox economics is the task of this paper.

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The Great Financial Crisis: an Ethical Rejoinder

  • David Charles Merrill

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