Economics as a Moral Science

Past events

ECONOMICS AS A MORAL SCIENCE: Exploring moral components of economic theory and analysis. International Conference. Warsaw, 9th 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 (Loughborough University London)
  • Prof. Arjo Klamer (Rotterdam)
  • Prof. Péter Róna (Oxford)


8:45Departure from city centre for those who need transport
9:45Opening and welcome/Director of the Polish Economic Institute
10:00First keynote - Prof. Péter Róna (Oxford): Made with Words – Intentionality and the Objects of Economics
11:00Second keynote – Prof. Geoffrey Hodgson (London): Evolution and Moral Motivation in Economics
12:00Coffee break
12:15Parallel sessions
1. Robert McMaster/John Davis
Health care economics as a moral science?

2. Aleksander Ostapiuk
Weakness of will. The limits of revealed preference theory

3. Mateusz Firlej
The sense of positive-normative distinction in economic methodology
1. Jean-Sébastien Gharbi
Welfarism and Ethical Neutrality

2. Tomasz Kwarciński
On false dichotomy of economic agent’s moral and self-interested motivation

3. Krzysztof Turek
In search of the assumption of the rationality of an economic agent in Adam Smith’s thought
1. Brendan Hogan
What is economics for?

2. Maciej Kassner
John Dewey’s Pragmatic Philosophy as a Critique of Economic Discourse

3. Caspar Safarlou
How (not) to connect ethics and economics: Epistemological and metaethical problems for the perfectly competitive market
14:30Parallel sessions
1. Gilles Campagnolo
Responsibility and Rule-learning in the Philosophy of Economics (Economic Philosophy): a study starting from K. R. Popper youth writings

2. Joanna Dzionek-Kozłowska/Sharaf N. Rehman
The Impact of Economic Education on People’s Ethical Values. A Meta-analysis of Research on the Influence of Economics Teaching

3. Altug Yalcintas
Research Ethics in Economics: A New Turn in Economic Methodology?

4. Marcin Gorazda
Naturalization of the Normative Economics
1. Boris Gurov/Momtchil Karpouzanov
The moral ambivalence of cooperation: from free market coordination to coercive reciprocal spoliation

2. Hanna Trojanowska
The ethical dimensions of the langue of economics

3. Rafał Bill
How moral is to disrupt our behaviour?
1. Zsófia Hajnal
Moral economics – from a theoretical basis to building the next economic system

2. Mateusz Kucz
Virtue ethics in economics – beyond positive-normative economics dichotomy

3. Anna Horodecka
The Concept of human nature as the challenge for rethinking the relation between individual and collective rationality
16:30Coffee break
16:45Third keynote – Prof. Arjo Klamer (Rotterdam): A Value Based Approach to Economics
17:45Fourth keynote – Prof. Łukasz Hardt (Warszawa): Towards a Humble Economics
18:45Plenary summary
19:15Gala Dinner at the Palace

Registration for this event has been closed.

For details please email:


The conference is organised by the Department of Metaeconomics at the Polish Economic Institute (

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