The Concept of Justice in the History of Economic Thought
58 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011 Last revised: 12 Jun 2011
Date Written: May 31, 2011
Economic thought has shifted its focus from an essentially normative approach, dealing with the question of justice, to an emphasis on efficiency and equilibria. This paper traces the changing perception of the issue of justice in the history of economic thought. Today, many heterodox economists maintain this long tradition of thinking about justice. In mainstream theory, i. e. neoclassical theory, however, justice is not regarded as being part of its research agenda. Consequently, economics is widely defined and perceived as the science of efficiency, and contemplation on the concept of justice is outsourced into neighbouring disciplines such as political science, law, sociology and philosophy in particular. Furthermore, it becomes apparent that ideas of justice are never creations ex nihilo, but develop from the entirety of traditional thought on that matter. Thought about justice is always context specific and ideas change due to new circumstances. It follows that contemplation on justice can never become superfluous and as the rich tradition of thought about justice in the history of economic thought shows, economists have much to contribute to this endeavour.
Keywords: Economic Schools of Thought, Efficiency, Justice, Just Price, Scarcity
JEL Classification: B00, B40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation