Title: Economics and misanthropy

Authors: Sebastian Thieme

Addresses: Centre for Economic and Sociological Studies – CESS/ZÖSS, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 9, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract: Most economic theories contain an idea of humans in which they are rational and maximise their utility to avoid the hardship of labour. It is only a small step from such a negative idea of people to the stereotype of the welfare queen or the deadbeat dad. Drawing on the idea of what Wilhelm Heitmeyer calls 'group-focused enmity', this paper discusses the existence of misanthropic elements within the history of economic thought and current economic debates, e.g., the example of labour market recommendations of the German Council of Economic Experts, Gary S. Becker's explanation on capital punishment and the agency theory, including its application. The paper tries to stimulate thinking about economic misanthropy. The paper also argues that economics is not misanthropic by nature since the history of economic thought contains alternative ideas from Adam Smith, Alfred Müller-Armack and Peter Ulrich, which could alleviate misanthropic tendencies.

Keywords: workfare; group-focused enmity; economisation; minimum of existence; social irenic; economic misanthropy; Wilhelm Heitmeyer; economics; labour market; agency theory.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2013.055718

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2013 Vol.7 No.2, pp.83 - 102

Available online: 05 Aug 2013 *

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