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Perché dovremmo tutti pagare il predicatore. Le origini economiche dei vincoli etici

Why We Should All Pay the Preacher: Economic Origins of Ethical Constraints

Anno XXVII, n. 118, luglio-settembre 1992
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

This is the last of three lectures which may be summarised under the title "Ethics and Economic Process". In the first two lectures, two of the central principles of "Puritan ethics" are subjected to economic analysis, and it is demonstrated that an ethic of work and an ethic of saving have economic value in the sense that each of the participants in an economy benefits from the presence of these ethical attitudes among other with whom he expects to interact in a large and complex production-exchange nexus. In the analysis made here, the economic origins of ethical norms are sought, not in the individual's choice of constraints aimed at inhibiting his or her own behaviour either in isolation or as part of a contractual convention, but, instead, in the individual's desire for constraints on the behaviour of others. Some implications are examined of the recognition that economically relevant ethical interdependence extends beyond the minimal limits of honestly in exchange. If the thesis is correct, if an economy in which participants are constrained by what we call "Puritan ethics" is indeed more productive, it follows as a matter of course that there are purely economic reasons for trying to instil or imprint this set of norms in all those who may participate in the network of production, distribution and exchange.