Ethics and Economics


About This Site


This website was created as a companion to the Ethics and Economics course taught by Stefan Kesting at the University of Leeds. The course brings a much needed discussion of ethics into the study of economics at the undergraduate level.

The attached pdf file gives a detailed explanation of the motivations and inspiration behind the course:


Course Summary

Below is a summarised version of the course, showing the key reading for each topic and the associated film.

For the full course overview, click here


Week 1: Introduction to the module

  • Key reading: Wilfred Dolfsma and Stefan Kesting (2013).Key text: Economics as a Moral Science, in:Interdisciplinary economics, Kenneth E. Bouldings Engagement in the Sciences. London and New York: Routledge, pp.113-125.
  • Film: Antigone

Week 2: Virtue Ethics

Week 3: Utilitarianism

  • Key reading: Singer, P. (1993).Chapter 11, 'Ends and Means' in:Practical ethics. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, pp.289-313.
  • Film: Minority Report

Week 4: Neoclassical Economics & Ethics

  • Key reading: Robert H. Frank (2003) Chapter 1, 'Forging Commitments that Sustain Cooperation', in: What Price the Moral High Ground? Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 3-27
  • Film: Waking Ned Divine

Week 5: Libertarianism

  • Key reading: David Schmidtz (1994), The Institution of Property,Social Philosophy and Policy, 11(2), pp.42-62.
  • Film: Chisum

Week 6: Kantian and Communitarian Ethics

  • Key readings: (1) Mark A. Lutz & Kenneth Lux (1988), Chapter 6, 'Beyond Rational Man, The Reasonable Person', in: Humanistic Economics, The New Challenge, pp. 104-127 (2) Amitai Etzioni (1990), Chapter 1,'The New Paradigm, Underlying Themes', in: The Moral Dimension, Toward a New Economics, The Free Press. pp. 1-19
  • Film: High Noon

Week 7: Capabilities Approach & Amartya Sen

  • Key reading:(1)Amartya Sen (1992), Chapter 3, 'Functionings and Capabilities' and Chapter 4, 'Freedom, Agency and Well-Being' in: Inequality Re-examined, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 39-72
  • Film: ARTE Documentaries, Examined Life Documentary, Sen Interview Clips

Week 8: Capabilities Approach & Nussbaum

  • Key readings: (1) Martha Nussbaum (2000) Chapters IV, V, and VI in:Women and Human Development - The Capabilities Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 71-100 (2) Martha Nussbaum (2000) Introduction, Section IV. Two Women Trying to Flourish, in:Women and Human Development - The Capabilities Approach, pp 15-24
  • Film: Wadjda

Week 9: Feminism

  • Key reading: Virginia Held (1989) Chapter 18, Mothering versus Contract, in:Beyond Self Interest, edited by J. Jane Mansbridge, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press
  • Film: Made In Dagenham

Week 10: Habermas' Discourse Ethics

  • Key reading: Hans Joas and Wolfgang Knobl (2011) Chapter 10, Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action, in:Social Theory, Twenty Introductory Lectures, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 222-249
  • Film: 12 Angry men