Economic Ethics for Real Humans - The Contribution of Behavioral Economics to Economic Ethics
This paper discusses how economic ethics can profit from taking into account the results of behavioral economics. In contrast to the neo-classical mainstream of economics, behavioral economics does not presuppose the model of ‘economic man’, but explores the ways in which real human beings make economic decisions. The example of akrasia and its effects on old-age saving shows that behavioral economic research opens new fields for economic ethics. A central ethical aspect in this context is the question about the moral autonomy of economic agents. A Rawlsian approach shows that opt-out systems, which take into account typical behavioral tendencies, can, under certain conditions, be a way of combining the desiderata of supporting rational behavior and safe-guarding autonomy.
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