How Economists Killed Your Conscience

This emphasis on “incentives” and “accountability” relies on a homo economicus model of purely selfish human behavior that was developed for theoretical economics, but has since spread to be embraced by policymakers, business leaders, and experts in a wide range of fields from political science to philosophy. Today, it’s hard to find a serious discussion of the possibility that we might encourage or discourage particular behaviors by appealing not to selfishness, but instead to the force of conscience. Many modern experts would snicker at the very idea. Conscience is viewed as the province of religious leaders and populist politicians, not lawyers, businessmen, or regulators.

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