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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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Individual in Essence, Social in Orientation

Individual in Essence, Social in Orientation

Chapter:
(p.86) Chapter 3 Individual in Essence, Social in Orientation
Source:
Kantian Ethics and Economics
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804768948.003.0004

This chapter examines character, which includes both judgment and the will, in relation to a general Kantian view of the economic individual. It explores how this individual differs from the homo economicus of neoclassical economics and other ideas introduced by sociologists, philosophers, and heterodox economists (particularly social economists). It argues that the economic agent is individual in essence and social in orientation. The chapter first looks at individualism and sociality before comparing the Kantian-economic model to atomism and its opposite, social embeddedness. It defends a limited sense of atomism as an implication of autonomy that itself implies sociality rather than an asocial orientation. It then considers several concepts of identity as they apply to the Kantian individual and argues that an individual is defined, individuated, and identified over time by his/her unique character. It also analyzes the recent work of Christine Korsgaard on practical identity and self-constitution to explain how character is self-created and maintained by the individual's choices and actions.

Keywords:   character, judgment, will, economic individual, individualism, atomism, sociality, social embeddedness, Christine Korsgaard, Kantian-economic model

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