Does Morality Matter? Reflection on Relationship Between Ethics and Neoliberal Capitalism


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Capitalism, Economy, Ethics, Society


Capitalism, in its neoliberal form, gives priority to the market forces in organization of social life. Homo economics is required to principles of private property and individualism. Economic reasoning rather than moral norms directs actions of neoliberal economic agent. However, rising inequality and poverty throughout the world has not only decreased trust in the discipline of economics, it led to doubts regarding the legitimacy of the prevailing neoliberal economic paradigm. There is a need for seriously reconsidering the ethical foundation of the neoclassical economics that reduces economic goals to individual material gains. The main objective of this paper is to explore unacknowledged affinities between economics and morality. The underlying assumption is that ethical disposition of an individual has a causal influence on his economic behavior. This provides us a reason to think that economic life would grind to a halt without moral commitments of economic actors. This paper argues that even though at theoretical level economic behavior and moral judgment might be separated but in practical life both of them have a strong connection with each other and ethical concerns unavoidably enter into economic activities. This paper concludes that neither abandoning capitalism nor adopting a completely new economic system is an intellectually plausible option. However, one practical option to conceptualize the complexities of the contemporary global economy, as long as feasible alternative to neoliberal capitalism are not available, is to envision the possibility of capitalism within a moral framework of society.