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The Ethics of Capitalism

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Abstract

Traditional studies on natural law and justice have been eclipsed by the development of a concept of economic science that has tried to apply a methodology originally formed for the natural sciences to the social sciences. According to this line of thought, the defining content of economic theory consists of the systematic application of a narrow criterion of “rationality,” so that both individual human action and economic policy are determined by calculations of costs and benefits based on a maximization criterion that makes it possible to “optimize” the attainment of the ends pursued on the basis of given means. According to this approach, it seemed obvious that considerations relative to ethical principles as guides for human behavior lost relevance and significance. In fact, it seemed that a universal guide for human behavior had been found that could be put into practice by applying a simple criterion of maximizing the beneficial consequences derived from each action without the need, therefore, to adapt the behavior of human beings to predefined ethical rules. Science had apparently thus managed to eliminate considerations related to justice by rendering them obsolete.

Jesús Huerta de Soto, "The Ethics of Capitalism," Journal of Markets & Morality 2, no. 2 (Fall 1999): 150-163


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