B&E - 441
|Instructor:||Professor Roger D. Congleton||T/W/Th: 2:00 - 3:30
|Office:||B&E - 428
|.Office Phone|| 3-7866 (e-mail is
the most reliable way to reach me)
|Office Hours:||2:00-3:30 Wednesday and Thursdays, and most other times by appointment||
|Required Texts:||class notes
|Main Texts (Optional):||Source Material for the Course*
|.||Aristotle (350 bc) Nicomachean Ethics
(Available as an E-book from Google, Liberty Fund, Amazon,
Buchanan, J. M. (1997) Ethics and Economic Progress. Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Mill, J. S. (1863) On Liberty. Boston: Ticnor and Fields. (Available as an E-book from Google and Liberty Fund).
Rand, A.(2005) Atlas Shrugged. New York: Penguin. (Available as an E-book from Google and Amazon).
Smith, A. (1776) An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. (Available as an e-book from Google and Liberty Fund).
Spencer, H. (1896) Principles of Ethics. Appleton and Company, New York. (Available as an e-book at liberty fund and the Von Mises Institute)
Weber, Max (1930) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (Available as an e-book from Google and Amazon.)
|.||Moral Foundations of Capitalism is a
lecture course that explores how some types of ethical
dispositions allow markets to become larger and more
effective. They do so by reducing unproductive
conflict, simplifying contract enforcement,
internalizing externalities, and reducing principal agent
problems. The course also demonstrates that norms that
favor voluntary over coercive relationships and that
include a place for material comfort in a good life often
help to promote market processes, networks, and outcomes.
Three types of normative theories are examined: (i)
personal ethics, (ii) civil ethics, and social ethics. All
three types have played roles the establishment of the
Whether then we suppose that the End impresses each man's mind with certain notions not merely by nature, but that there is somewhat also dependent on himself; or that the End is given by nature, and yet Virtue is voluntary because the good man does all the rest voluntarily, Vice must be equally so;
Aristotle (2012-05-17). Ethics (p. 82). . Kindle Edition.
|For not only is a developed sense of
responsibility absolutely indispensable, but in
general also an attitude which, at least during
working hours, is freed from continual
calculations of how the customary wage may be earned
with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of exertion.
Labor must, on the contrary, be performed as if it
were an absolute end in itself, a calling. But
such an attitude is by no means a product of nature.
Weber, Max (2012-10-21). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Kindle Locations 311-314). Vook, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
|The course is divided in
to three parts. (1) The first part reviews theories of
ethics from Aristotle through JS Mill. This intellectual
history introduces students to several theories of ethics
and shows how major figures from philosophy and economics
have used their theories to evaluate the merits of
market-oriented careers and markets. The overview also
provides evidence that ethical theories in the West
gradually became more supportive of commerce. (2) The
second part of the course uses game theory and economic
theory to show how a subset of ethical dispositions can
increase gains to trade. As such ethical dispositions
become commonplace, trading networks become more
extensive, larger economic organizations become feasible,
and rates of innovation tend to increase. In short, a
commercial society tends to emerge. (3) The third part of
the course explores how normative theories affect
market relevant public policies. It begins with a short
review of the history of welfare economics, and examines
how particular norms tend to promote (or discourage) the
emergence of commercial societies and rates of innovation.
The main goals of the course are to induce students (1) to become familiar with an intellectual history and core ethical arguments concerning the proper role of markets in a good life, and (2) to increase their understanding of the many ways in which normative theories affect the extent of commerce. Some societies are richer than others because their culture--their ethical dispositions--accord a broader role for commerce in a good life and good society, and also support the ethical dispositions that make markets work more efficiently.
Grades are determined by two examinations and a final paper.
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.
Smith, Adam (2010-03-23). Wealth of Nations,1776 Edition (pp. 7-8). . Kindle Edition.
|.||Tentative Course Outline||.|
and the Good Life
to Moral Foundations of Capitalism
||Norms as personal motivations and self
restraint. Two approaches to norms: positive--the study of
the effects of norms, and normative--the application of
normative theories to assess private behavior, societies,
and market outcomes. Norms that help and hurt economic
growth. Capitalism as a name for contemporary market-based
networks and lifestyles.
Vonnegut: Harrion Bergeron
||2. Aristotle's Ethics and Political
Theory as Private Ethics Ethics as the
pursuit of lifetime happiness, rather than short term
pleasure. Aristotle's principle of moderation in all
things.Wealth as a means to an end. Aristotlian virtues.
Aristotle as the foundation of contemporary secular
Supporting Ethics and the Early Enlightenment.
Three major disruptions of the medieval order. Nature law
and the moral sense. Markets as a dissipating or
supporting system for ethical development. Rising
importance of life on earth. Baxter and Barklay on duties
on earth. Locke and the division between theological and
Grotius, La Court,
Liberalism, Ethics, and the Market.
Montesquieu and the importance of political virtue.
Franklin and the "spirit" of capitalism. Smith: moral
sentiments and the impartial spectator as the source of
ethics and virtue. Kantian duties and the moral
imperative. Bastiat on market support for ethics.
||5. Utilitarian Foundations for Private and Social Ethics. Another secular core principle for the development of ethics. Bentham and the utilitarian revolution, Mill's extensions. Spencer's evolutionary approach. Do ethics improve survival prospects? Emergence of social ethics along with democratic politics. Ideology as social ethics.||
|II. Ethics and the Extent of Commerce|
||6. Civil Ethics and Civil Society: A
Game Theoretic Analysis
(1) Introduction to Game Theory: Strategy Choice and Nash Equilibrium with Applications to Ethics and Civil Society, (2) Escaping the Hobbesian jungle, ethics and law as substitutes. (3) Solving coordination games, (4) Internalizing Externalities
WP-Contemporary Hobbesian Dilemma
WSJ-Importance of Civic Virtue
|February 12 (postponed until after the
midterm because of the snow day)
||7. Commerce and Market Supporting
Ethics: A Game Theoretic Approach
(1) Economics of gains to trade and trading networks, (2) Problems of Team Production, how the work ethic improves team production and promotes specialization. How selecting ethical persons can improve profits and encourage some types of ethical behavior. (3) Transaction and Enforcement costs as a limit on the extent of trading networks and specialization. How ethics reduces contract complexity and enforcement costs and expand markets. Evidence of the importance of Trustworthiness,
|Weber on the Work Ethic
Congleton on the Work Ethic
Buchanan and Yoon on the Work Ethic
Taylor on Scientific Management
||Review for Midterm Exam
||Review of Midterm Exam||Paper Topics|
||7. Commerce and Market Supporting
Ethics: A Game Theoretic Approach [Continued]
Economics with Ethics (A). Bringing ethics
into the Marginal Benefit Marginal Cost Framework,
Marginal Revenue Product as a consequence of team
production and private ethics.
||Franklin on Ethics in the
(Link to lectures from intermediate micro economics on marginal benefit and marginal cost curves)
Break March 9-17
Economics with Ethics (B).
Equilibrium investments in and distributions of Virtue.
Ethics and the extent of Commerce are codetermined.
||Franklin on Ethics in the
|III. Commerce, Ethics, Law, and the Good Society|
|| 9. Ethics and the Law.
Moral foundations of law in a commonwealth. Internalized
ethics and the enforcement of Law.
Public Choice Society April 1-4 / Videos as RDC is out
Material, Not likely to be covered in Lecture
||10. Neoclassical Welfare Economics
and the Performance of Markets.
Contractarian alternatives from Buchanan and Rawls.
Externaliteis and the utilitarian case for regulation.
11. Ethics, Government Failure, and System Choice. The possibility of government failure. Majority rule and economic regulation, favoritism and rent seeking.
||12. The Ethics of Progress: Innovation, Uncertainty, Entrepreneurship, and Markets Dynamic models of commercial societies. Is economic development moral? The role of ethics and norms in the evolution and evaluation of spontaneous orders. Ethical defenses of creative destruction.||
Spencer and Hayek on the Evolution of Ethics and Spontaneous Orders
Congleton and Vanberg on Evolution of Ethics
| Review for Final
Second Midterm Exam
Exams Returned and Reviewed
|Study Guide II|
||Last Day of Class, Overview
Lecture and Paper Workshop
Due by Midnight (to be e-mailed
||. (Remember to format the file title as
you,” he said. “A city is the frozen shape of human
courage—the courage of those men who thought for the
first time of every bolt, rivet and power generator that
went to make it. The courage to say, not ‘It seems
to me,’ but ‘It is’—and to stake one’s life on one’s
judgment. You’re not alone. Those men exist. They
have always existed.
Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged (pp. 473-474). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
|Marginal extra credit for extraordinary class participation (up to 5% bonus)|