8.5 Conclusion

Many students of economics are drawn to the discipline out of an interest in understanding the social and moral meaning and significance of economic outcomes.  Interpreting the social and moral meaning of economic outcomes, however, requires a set of philosophical beliefs that can be effectively integrated and tied to economic activity.  In this chapter we have seen how orthodox economics entwines utilitarian philosophy to economic activity.  We have also seen the limitations to the utilitarian approach in that it gives the adherents to this tradition little to no room to challenge the outcomes associated with market economic activity.  In this chapter we have also seen how heterodox economists, by not accepting the utilitarian tradition have utilized other philosophical approaches, such as the capabilities approach or the labor theory of value, to interpret economic events.  In the case of these alternative philosophical approaches, market outcomes are not assumed to be socially just.  For heterodox economists, as a result of alternative philosophical visions, questions of conflict, such as exploitation and discrimination, are directly confronted and possible solutions are provided.

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