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Moral Markets:
The Critical Role of Values in the Economy
Edited by Paul J. Zak
With a foreword by Michael C. Jensen

Paperback | 2008 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691135236
392 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 12 halftones. 12 line illus. 7 tables.
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Like nature itself, modern economic life is driven by relentless competition and unbridled selfishness. Or is it? Drawing on converging evidence from neuroscience, social science, biology, law, and philosophy, Moral Markets makes the case that modern market exchange works only because most people, most of the time, act virtuously. Competition and greed are certainly part of economics, but Moral Markets shows how the rules of market exchange have evolved to promote moral behavior and how exchange itself may make us more virtuous. Examining the biological basis of economic morality, tracing the connections between morality and markets, and exploring the profound implications of both, Moral Markets provides a surprising and fundamentally new view of economics--one that also reconnects the field to Adam Smith's position that morality has a biological basis. Moral Markets, the result of an extensive collaboration between leading social and natural scientists, includes contributions by neuroeconomist Paul Zak; economists Robert H. Frank, Herbert Gintis, Vernon Smith (winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics), and Bart Wilson; law professors Oliver Goodenough, Erin O'Hara, and Lynn Stout; philosophers William Casebeer and Robert Solomon; primatologists Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal; biologists Carl Bergstrom, Ben Kerr, and Peter Richerson; anthropologists Robert Boyd and Michael Lachmann; political scientists Elinor Ostrom and David Schwab; management professor Rakesh Khurana; computational science and informatics doctoral candidate Erik Kimbrough; and business writer Charles Handy.


"Moral Markets challenges the 'homo economicus' rational choice framework of mainstream economics with 15 chapters contributed by a team researching the nature of values in economic thinking. Zak has compiled what may become a starting point for further work on this topic, given the volume's scope and creative insights. After philosophical reflections from Aristotle to Adam Smith on the origin and nature of values, the readings focus on evolutionary processes that form values like fairness and reciprocity. . . . [T]his collection is important in helping to reconsider the value-free claims of economics."--J. Halteman, Wheaton College, for CHOICE

"The book's span is huge, taking in cooperation among chimpanzees, the status of moral emotions, and the role of contract law in encouraging trustworthy behaviour, as well as areas more familiar to economists such as the effect of incentive schemes on employee effort. . . . Moral Markets is an interesting and valuable book, addressing important and under-researched questions."--Joe Perkins, World Economics

"Moral Markets is a fascinating indicator in its own right of trends in thinking about markets. . . . This . . . should be part of strategic thinking for any senior manager, in library work and beyond. This is also an attractive addition to the economics and business ethics shelves of any academic library."--Stuart Hannabuss, Library Review

"Moral Markets is challenging not only because it brings to bear a wide variety of scientific fields of inquiry but also because it is willing to buck widely held assumptions about markets and what human nature really is. By drawing the best available science, it manages to offer a sense both of objectivity and of hope that perhaps we are not as nasty and brutish as we sometimes seem."--Ray Bert, Civil Engineering

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