Conference ‘The Ethics of Economic Institutions’

Country: Netherlands

City: Utrecht

Abstr. due: 01.07.2014

Dates: 08.01.15 — 10.01.15

Area Of Sciences: Economics and management; Sociology;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research


Economic institutions as moral messages

Our economic institutions are never merely economic institutions; they are always at the same time also moral statements about the good or right ways in which we produce, exchange, consume, distribute and ultimately live together. This includes both the public and private part of economic life. This prompts many questions, such as the following:
•What kind of taxes should we have, and on which purposes should we spend public revenues?
•Which markets are to be prohibited, and how should markets be regulated?
•What would a just financial sector require? Which kinds of relations should prevail between debtors and creditors?
•What is the purpose of corporations, and what are the implications for corporate governance?
•Should citizens have a right and/or a duty to work?
•How to theorise moral obligations to appropriate workplace conditions?


The following speakers will give keynote lectures (titles are provisional):

  • Boudewijn de Bruin (University of Groningen): ‘The Ethics of Money and Debt’;
  • Joseph Heath (University of Toronto): ‘On the Very Idea of a Just Wage’;
  • Miriam Ronzoni (University of Manchester): ‘Global Labour Justice’;
  • Erik Schokkaert, (KU Leuven): ‘Solidarity and Innovation in Health Care: Principles and Taboos’;
  • Lea Ypi (London School of Economics): ‘Exploitation in the Market’.

    Read the speakers’ biographies (PDF).
Call for proposals

This conference is meant to stimulate reflection about the ethical sides of these questions. Which moral ideals should animate our economic institutions, and what are the implications in practice? The conference organisers seek contributions from moral, social and political philosophy, but also from a wide range of other disciplines (economics, history, sociology, law, etc.) that may shed light on these questions.

Contributions may address a particular author (e.g. Rawls on property-owning democracy, Mill on the stationary state), ethical theory (e.g. a Kantian view on financial markets, a utilitarian view of labour markets), or a particular economic institution (from basic income schemes to ecological markets).

The organisers are particularly interested in contributions addressing the methodology of ethical evaluations of economic institutions: how do we (and should we) evaluate institutions from a moral point of view? How does this focus on institutions relate to ethical evaluations of individual actions (as is typical in business ethics)? How does this type of reflection relate to economic, sociological and political evaluations of the same institutions?

Conference Web-Site: