Welfare and moral economy

Sayer, Richard Andrew (2018) Welfare and moral economy. Ethics and Social Welfare, 12 (1). pp. 20-33. ISSN 1749-6535

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The paper offers a wide-angle view of ethics and welfare through the lens of ‘moral economy’. It examines economic activities in relation to a view of welfare as well-being, and to ethics in terms of economic justice. Rather than draw upon abstract ideal theories such as Rawlsian or Capabilities approaches, it calls for an evaluation of actually existing sources of harm and benefit in neoliberal capitalism. It argues that we need to look behind economic outcomes in terms of how much money different people have, examine their economic relations to others, and evaluate the justifications of these relations and their associated rights and practices. It distinguishes three sources of income – earned income, transfers, and unearned income, and argues that the last of these has no functional or ethical justification but has major implications for welfare. It then comments on the policy implications of the argument, including brief comments on asset-based welfare and universal basic income policies, and concludes.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Ethics and Social Welfare
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethics and Social Welfare on 15/09/2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17496535.2017.1377273
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Deposited On:
16 Apr 2018 12:56
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 01:34