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Kantian Ethics and EconomicsAutonomy, Dignity, and Character$
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Mark White

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804768948

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804768948.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Kantian Ethics and Economics
Stanford University Press

This book deals with the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant in relation to economics. It examines how Kant explains and defends the concept of duty by reference to his famous categorical imperative and considers his argument that every rational being is endowed with dignity by virtue of his/her autonomy. The dignity of a person provides a substantive basis for Kant's ethics. As with utilitarianism in general, welfare economics has no room for concepts of desert, rights, justice, or dignity—which is its fundamental weakness in the face of a Kantian approach. This book regards dignity to be the true heart of Kantian ethics. By promoting a Kantian approach to economics, it is also advocating the relevant parts of virtue ethics. One thing that Kant and the virtue ethicists have in common is character. Kantian ethics is firmly rooted in character, from which it derives specific duties and obligations in a more systematic manner than most systems of virtue ethics.

Keywords:   ethics, Immanuel Kant, autonomy, dignity, character, economics, duty, categorical imperative, utilitarianism, moral philosophy

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