Language: ENGLISH

Italy - Milan, 8-9/06/2011

The Department of Political Economics, together with Econometica, Heirs and CISEPS present the international conference:

Market and Happiness

Do economic interactions crowd out civic virtues and human capabilities?

Logo_heirs01_ridJune 8-9 2011
University of Milan Bicocca
Auditorium degli Arcimboldi,
via Vizzola 5
20126  Milano

Introductory address: Lorenzo Sacconi 
Opening lecture: Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago, “Does a focus on happiness support human capabilities?

Chair: Pier Luigi Porta, University of Milano - Bicocca, HEIRS

Keynote speaker: Bruno Frey, University of Zurigo, “Happiness and war”; Irene Van Staveren, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, “Profit maximization versus virtue in financial markets: a reconstruction of eudaimonia before and after the financial crisis”; Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia, “Why should the devil have all the best tunes? Virtue ethics in defence of the market

see poster
see invite

Panel "new indicators of well-being: beyond the GDP": Andrea Brandolini, Economic Research Department, Bank of Italy, Enrico Giovannini, President of the National Institute of Statistic (ISTAT); Stefano Zamagni, University of Bologna, President of the Onlus Agencies

The aim of the conference is to elicit contributions on the nexus between well-being,  human capabilities, civil virtues  and the market as the basic economic institution. “Public happiness” (pubblica felicità) is one of the key issues of the Italian and Latin classical economic tradition, that derives from Aristotle  and civic humanism, where markets are considered an essential element of civil life,  involving mutual assistance, reciprocity, and a general climate favourable to civil virtues.

Today, however, communitarians and virtue ethics philosophers are instead critical toward ordinary market relations. They cherish a suggestion for society to protect itself and preserve higher human capabilities from what is considered an invasion from market forces. On a similar line of thought, much of the economic and psychological literature on intrinsic motivation harbour deep doubts about the virtuous or ethical nature of market interactions and on the kind of ‘cooperation’ resulting from market interactions. Is it possible to imagine and describe market as a domain of interactions that can be at the same time moral and mutually advantageous (both in instrumental and intrinsic sense)? What this question suggests is a new  approach providing  a different way of thinking about markets and about the institutions, social norms and attitudes that make the market’s working possible.

Normal economic dealings are not necessarily the offspring of simple greed, competition or self interest, and they may be compatible, or perhaps also require,  a web of social rules, norms, attitudes and motivations that only a narrow view of economics may have expelled from  the understanding of the market functioning.

The conference will explore the many dimensions of this tension between market interactions and human capabilities, where different views are subjected to close scrutiny and criticism. Over 130 paper have applied for  this conference and notwithstanding a rigorous selection process , they will allow to have a wide interdisciplinary discussion on the state of the art about our main subject and related  themes.




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