ECONOMICS AND ETHICS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
Knowledge and understanding
The course aims to provide students with the basic concepts and principles related to the relationship between ethics and economics, in particular considering the complexity of human motivations also in the economic context. More specifically, the course intends to provide students with fundamental knowledge related to: the role of the State and the market in the economic system in the light of the main theories of justice; the homo oeconomicus approach and its main limits; the complexity of human motivations also within strictly economic interactions; the phenomena of fair trade and nonprofit sector.
Applying knowledge and understanding
The student will be able to understand and discuss clearly, through appropriate arguments, possible proposals and considerations related to the role of the State and the market in economics and to the complexity of human motivations.
At the end of the course students will have acquired the ability to critically interpret the main economic events, in the light of the different theories of justice analyzed in the course and of the complexity of economic agents’ motivations.
Students will be able to communicate their own comments and ideas on the topics discussed in the course to various interlocutors effectively and appropriately.
Students will develop a personal method of study and acquire the ability to undertake, in the most independent way possible, more complex and thorough studies, particularly in respect to economic issues analyzed in the course.
Course contents summary
The course focuses on two main aspects concerning the relationship between ethics and economics.
Firstly, the concept of efficiency is analyzed in relation to that of equity, by considering the principles behind the utilitarian approach and those characterizing other theories of justice (Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Amartya Sen). With reference to the same theories, the course analyzes the role that the State and the market should have – mainly in a normative perspective - in the economic system.
Secondly, the role of trust and norms of reciprocity and cooperation in explaining the economic behavior of agents will be analyzed. The standard “homo oeconomicus” approach is challenged by an increasing number of contributions both at a theoretical and at an empirical level. In particular, considering the recent evidence provided by experimental economics or the Easterlin paradox. It is increasingly evident that agents’ behavior cannot be explained, either in the specific economic context, by considering purely self-interested motivations on material aspects.
Within this theoretical framework, some specific phenomena will be analyzed, such as the Fair trade and the nonprofit sector.
Becchetti L. and Costantino M. (2006), Il commercio equo e solidale alla prova dei fatti : dai gusti dei consumatori del Nord all'impatto sui produttori del Sud del mondo, B. Mondadori (pp. 79 - 165).
Becchetti L. and Paganetto L. (2003), Finanza etica commercio equo e solidale, Donzelli Editore Capitolo 3 (pp. 95 - 171).
Bruni L. and Faillo M. (2005), La complessità delle motivazioni umane in economia, in Sacconi L. (ed.) Guida critica alla responsabilità sociale e al governo d’impresa, Bancaria Editrice (pp. 375 - 385).
Gui B. (2003), Nonprofit e beni relazionali, Impresa Sociale, n°67, gen/feb 2003 (pp. 47 - 56).
Sacco P.L. and Zarri L. (2006), Perché esiste il settore non profit?, Working Paper Aiccon n.29, Facoltà di Economia dell’Università di Bologna, sede di Forlì, Corso di Laurea in Economia delle Imprese Cooperative e delle Organizzazioni Non profit, Febbraio 2006; pp. 25.
Sacconi L. (1991), Etica degli affari, Il Saggiatore; Chapter 2; Chapter 3, sections: 3.1; 3.2; 3.3 (pp. 3 - 89).
Lectures and seminars held by experts on the topics discussed in the course. Timetable and titles of seminars will be communicated by the teacher during the course and available online.
Assessment methods and criteria
The knowledge and understanding will be assessed with two open questions (each worth 5 points), which ask a short answer that is specifically aimed at verifying the knowledge of the concepts and principles discussed in the course.
The communication skills, the ability to apply the acquired knowledge through appropriate arguments and reflections and the autonomy of judgment will be assessed with two open questions (each worth 10 points), structured on several points which require the articulation of a discourse which integrates different notions acquired during the course in a coherent and logical way.
Learning skills will be assessed on the basis of an assessment across the various answers to the different questions of the exam.
Study material is available at the photocopy office at the Department of economics (via Kennedy, 4). Additional information on the readings will be communicated by the teacher during the course and will be available online