On Ethics and Economics Book Review

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  • Topic: Economics, Rational choice theory, Amartya Sen
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  • Published : November 27, 2012
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On Ethics and Economics
Amartya Sen
Blackwell Publishers, 1987, pp. 148, Rs. 271

‘On Ethics and Economics’ by Amartya Sen centres on a particular phenomenon that the author considers unfortunate to the discipline. In this book, Amartya Sen talks about the continued and ever increasing distancing of economics from ethics. This book has three chapters and under each chapter, there are sub topics. That makes the book more structured and easy to understand even for a person who is not so competent in the study of Economics. Though the book was written in 1987, most of the arguments still apply in todays’ world. Amartya Sen starts off with an Edward Clerihaw Bentley verse about a major practitioner of political economics and this sets the tone for the rest of the book. The author basically tries to argue that ethics-related tradition of Economics dates back to the days of Aristotle and that Economics ultimately goes hand in hand with the study of Ethics and Politics. Amartya Sen certainly and in a very obvious manner, questions the disassociation of the study of Economics from that of ethics and political philosophy. Hence, this book is undoubtedly a very important reading for those who are interested in connecting the dots between economics and business ethics. Professor Sen, while agreeing that the ‘engineering’ approach to Economics has been often fruitful, criticises the same ‘engineering approach’ by saying that it has substantially impoverished the modern economics because it has created a distance between economics and ethics. He also goes on to explain that the ‘Positive Economics’ has led to ignoring complex ethical consideration which effect human behaviour. Professor Sen believes that the growing distances between Ethics and Economics has affected the former more. The author is extremely persuasive when he suggests enlarging the role of welfare economics in understanding the basis for policy decisions involving social achievements. Professor Sen...
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