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Profits and Morality

Are profits morally justifiable? While neoclassical economists have traditionally endorsed the pursuit of profits, many moral philosophers have challenged profit making on a variety of ethical grounds. Through the lenses of economics, philosophy, and law, these six essays explore the morality of profits from libertarian, utilitarian, and consequentialist perspectives.

Presenting arguments for and against the morality of profit making, the contributors examine the nature of profits and which ethical theories can support them. Two essays address how profits are made: one explores entrepreneurship as a legitimate source of profit, while another argues that recent advances in welfare economics weaken the case for the morality of profits. The other chapters focus on ethical theory, covering the right to profits from economic rent; the morality of how profits are used—those directed toward library or university endowments, for example, are considered morally acceptable—and whether or not profits are deserved.

192 pages | 3 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1994

Economics and Business: Business--Business Economics and Management Studies, Economics--General Theory and Principles

Philosophy: Ethics

Political Science: Public Policy

Table of Contents

Robin Cowan, Mario J. Rizzo.
1: Fundamental Issues in the Justification of Profits
Robin Cowan, Mario J. Rizzo.
2: The Nature of Profits: Some Economic Insights and Their Ethical Implications
Israel M. Kirzner
3: Deserving Profits
Jan Narveson
4: The Moral Status of Profits and Other Rewards: A Perspective from Modern Welfare Economics
Peter J. Hammond
5: Rights to Natural Talents and Pure Profits: A Critique of Gauthier on Rights and Economic Rent
Eric Mack
6: The Cultural Justification of Unearned Income: An Economic Model of Merit Goods Based on Aristotelian Ideas of Akrasia and Distributive Justice
Robert D. Cooter, James Gordley.

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