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Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
This is the first of three lectures which may be summarised under the title Ethics and Economic Progress. The central thesis is that ethical or moral constraints on human behaviour exert important economic effects: ethical norms or principles are relevant determinants of the welfare of all those of us who form part of the economic nexus. In this lecture, the work ethic is examined in some detail and an argument is put forward whereby "working harder" can be, and is, for all of us, "good" in terms of our own preferences, whatever they might be, and totally divorced from any externally derived criteria of "goodness". Following a brief review of Adam Smith's thesis and the neoclassical school, the author goes on to argue that there is an externality involved in an individual's work-leisure choice, and that any participant in an economy has an economic interest in the work supply of others. He suggests that the individualised adjustments in the work-choice margin that might be dictated by what we call "naked preferences" will generate overall results that are non-optimal or inefficient. He concludes that, in such a setting, everyone could be made better off on his or her own account if he or she were to agree to work harder.