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Economic philosophy, social justice, and normative economics: some remarks about Rawls’s role

Jean-Sébastien Gharbi

Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, 2013, issue 65, 37-68

Abstract: It could seem tempting to present the publication of Rawls’ A theory of Justice [1971] as being at the origin, on the one hand, of the revival of normative economics and, on the other hand, of the birth of non welfarist approach in economics. However, the question of the initiator of these two movements is not so easy to resolve and it is interesting in an economic philosophy perspective. It is interesting because it questions the possibility that the economist’s works could be oriented from the outside. It is not easy to resolve because it assumes a subtle understanding of the social choice problem as Arrow puts it [1950; 1951] and the entire command of contemporary economics’ tools. In this paper, we defend the idea that it would be wrong to present Rawls as the initiator of the revival of normative economics and of the nonwelfarist approach in economics. We conclude, in a clearly prospective and exploratory way, in trying to highlight some relations between philosophy and economics and their implications on the meaning of the expression “economics philosophy.”

Keywords: economic philosophy; normative economics; social justice; Rawls (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A12 B41 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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