After the successful completion of this course, the student has the ability to:
- represent and critically reflect on the economic perspective on humanity (homo economicus model), its history, and its most significant assumptions;
- connect the economic perspective on humanity to insights from philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, Smith, Mill) and contemporary research on irrationality (Ariely) and consumerism (Schor);
- reproduce normative theories (utilitarianism, egalitarianism, meritocracy), situate them in their historical context, and apply them to societal issues, such as market failures and the place of markets in society;
- explain and present arguments for the relevance of the insights and authors discussed in the context of their own discipline (business economics, fiscal economics).
This course analyzes the major philosophical perspectives on people and the societies they make up. We discuss philosophical and economic perspectives on societal and institutional issues and developments and explore the relevant underlying views of people. The philosophical insights are related to concepts and practices from (business) economics.|
In part 1 – philosophy of humanity – we discuss the relevance of philosophy to (business) economists and explore the economic perspective on humanity. We discuss the homo economicus model both historically (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Marx) and systematically (the assumptions of the model). We analyse critiques of the homo economicus model, again both historically (Smith, Rousseau) and systematically (irrationality, behavioural economics). We link all these discussions with contemporary problems of consumerism, labour and alienation.
In part 2 – philosophy of society – we discuss social and institutional issues and developments. What is the role of markets in our society and how do they relate to the perspectives on humanity discussed in part 1? And how do we evaluate their desirability? We discuss two important ethical theories: utilitarianism (Bentham, Mill) and liberal egalitarianism (Rawls). In addition, we discuss the concept of merit (meritocracy).