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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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Kantian Ethics, Economics, and Decision-Making

Kantian Ethics, Economics, and Decision-Making

(p.14) Chapter 1 Kantian Ethics, Economics, and Decision-Making
Kantian Ethics and Economics
Stanford University Press

This chapter proposes an economic model of decision-making based on non-consequentialist ethics, focusing on the moral theory of Immanuel Kant who argues that the moral worth of actions is determined by the nature of the actions themselves, rather than their consequences. This type of ethical theory is also known as deontological theory, which is distinct from consequentialist or teleological (goal-oriented) theory. Drawing on Kant's conception of duty, this chapter incorporates deontological considerations into the economic model of choice. It first looks at key aspects of Kant's moral theory, including autonomy, judgment, dignity, perfect and imperfect duty, and the categorical imperative. It then applies these ideas to the classic prisoners' dilemma in game theory. Finally, it describes a Kantian-economic model of decision-making, which shows how Kant's ethics can be incorporated into the economic optimization framework. The chapter contends that with the proper understanding of duties, preferences, and constraints, the standard economic model is useful for describing deontological choice along Kantian lines.

Keywords:   ethics, Immanuel Kant, economic model, decision-making, non-consequentialist ethics, moral theory, categorical imperative, duty, deontological choice, prisoners' dilemma

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