Philosophy of Social Science Events

Upcoming Events | Past Events

Event: Conference: Economics as a Moral Science

Event date November 09, 2018
Submission deadline August 13, 2018
Location Poland
Host(s) Warsaw
Event website/information

Exploring moral components of economic theory and analysis
International Conference
Warsaw, 9 November 2018
Modern economics began as a moral science. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher whose economic reflection was interwoven with philosophical and ethical enquiry. Economics used to be seen to operate within ‘the law of nature’, or treated as part of jurisprudence, which, in turn, had its roots in moral philosophy. Later, after having embraced natural science’s methods and positivistic claims of fact/value distinction, economics came a long way toward scientific neutrality. This was especially true on moral issues. While Ricardo’s claim that political economy is ‘a strict science like mathematics’ finds few supporters today, there remains a strong methodological tendency toward positivism in the discipline.
Over the past fifty years, mainstream economics has come under considerable criticism from humanists over the apparent lack of ethical concern in the discipline. While there have been increasing debates over ethical aspects of economic policies and outcomes, much less attention has been paid to the moral dimension of the questions, the methods, and even the goals of economics itself.
Thus, this conference has two aims. First, to focus on the implications of this distinctive narrowing in the scope of economic theory to economic methodology. Second, to explore moral components of economic theory and analysis which could be integrated systematically with analytical thought rather than being treated as mere add-ons.
We invite economists and philosophers to reflect on contemporary perspectives in and about economics, in order to reclaim the moral character of the field of economics.
Confirmed keynotes:
Prof. Łukasz Hardt (Warsaw)
Prof. Geoffrey Hodgson (Hertfordshire)
Prof. Arjo Klamer (Rotterdam)
Prof. Péter Róna (Oxford)
Call for papers
Short papers are invited on topics relevant to the conference theme. These should discuss various perspectives within which economics could be viewed and practised as a moral science. Papers are to be delivered in parallel sessions of 30 minutes (20-minute paper, 10 minutes discussion). Those wishing to contribute a paper should submit:
(1) Full name (2) Institutional affiliation (3) Paper title (4) An abstract of up to 500-words that summarises the key points and indicates its scholarly backdrop.
Submissions should be sent to: with the subject line: ‘Economics as a Moral Science’.
Closing date for abstract submissions: Monday 13 August 2018
Notification of acceptance: Friday 31 August 2018
Topics for consideration:
Human and non-human agency in economics:
Could economics benefit from understanding the economic agent as a moral person?
Causation theories and causal mechanisms vs. human agency
Economic and non-economic rationality
Practical vs. instrumental reasoning
Nature and evolution of morality:
Human moral nature and its implications for economic theory
Moral vs. self-interested motivations – false dichotomy?
Should economics limit its focus to self-interested behaviour?
Is there a place for natural law in economics?
Modelling morality:
Moral behaviour in models – mere entry in utility functions?
Normative content of economic assumptions
Moral motivation in economic theory (e.g. theory of the firm)
Human values vs. economic goals:
Value judgments and methodological choices
What makes value judgments legitimately scientific?
Positive-normative economics dichotomy
Objectivity in economics
The list of topics is not exhaustive. Other related questions are welcome.
The conference is organised by the Department of Metaeconomics at the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycle Research in Warsaw (

Bookmark the permalink.