Friday, 22 February 2019

Chapter abstract: "The true value of “doing well” economically"

Below is my abstract, finished today, for a prospective book chapter to be written this Spring.


Chapter title: The true value of “doing well” economically

Author: Morten Tønnessen
Recent efforts to go beyond GDP as a measure of economic performance raise important questions about the nature of the economy, including: What is the best measure of a sound, flourishing economy? And what is the purpose of “doing well” in economic terms? One possible measure of the soundness of the economy could be the extent to which it results in better lives for humans – a thought that has inspired measures such as the HDI, among others. In the bigger picture, a sound, flourishing economy should also be consistent with good, and perhaps optimal, lives for non-humans, and well-functioning ecosystems. On this measure, economics should not be an altogether anthropocentric enterprise. To go beyond anthropocentric notions of economic performance, a degree of integration between economics, philosophy (normative ethics and philosophical anthropology included) and biology is required. A merely economic outlook can easily lead to commodification of each and every organism and natural resource, thus neglecting the agency, interests and intrinsic value of animals and other non-humans. To truly “serve all”, economists should acknowledge that there are economic stakeholders beyond humans, in the sense that the living conditions of practically all non-humans on this planet are today affected by human economic activities. This would make economics more compatible with current outlooks in normative ethics with regard to the value of animals, biodiversity etc., and could be part of a radical reconceptualization of the nature of the economy where economic value is situated within value theory in a wider sense.

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