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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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Dignity, Efficiency, and the Economic Approach to Law

Dignity, Efficiency, and the Economic Approach to Law

(p.122) Chapter 4 Dignity, Efficiency, and the Economic Approach to Law
Kantian Ethics and Economics
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the state's interactions with the individual by looking at Immanuel Kant's concepts of dignity and autonomy. It shows why Kant is widely considered one of the founders of classical liberalism (or economic libertarianism) on the basis of his argument for a minimal, non-interventionist role for the state. However, his position is not dependent on any cynicism about the efficacy of government, or on general opposition to a state per se. Kant argues that the state is a necessary component of the maximization of outer freedom among persons, but limits the legitimate use of state power to prohibiting this coercion. Thus, Kant does not favor positive, interventionist state action for promoting any consequentialist measures of social well-being. Such measures are the domain of welfare economics and one of its primary applications, the economic approach to law. This chapter first discusses the link between welfare economics and consequentialism, before turning to the ethics of efficiency and its implications for the field of law and economics.

Keywords:   Immanuel Kant, dignity, autonomy, state, individual, efficiency, welfare economics, law, consequentialism, coercion

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