Lanse Minkler‘s (IDEAS) recent book, Integrity and Agreement: Economics When Principles Also Matter, argues that moral principles— not mere self-interest—drives rational decision making. Starting with the elementary principle “lying is wrong,” Minkler examines the ways in which a sense of morality guides real-life decision making. Whether one feels committed to specific or general moral principles, Minkler explains, integrity demands consistently acting on that commitment. Because truthfulness is the most basic moral principle, integrity means honesty. And honesty extends beyond truth-telling. It requires good faith when entering an agreement and then standing by one’s word. From this premise, Minkler explores the implications of integrity for contracts between buyers and sellers and understandings between employers and employees. He also finds a role for integrity in an individual’s religious vows, an elected official’s accountability to constituents, and a community’s obligation to human rights.
Commenting on the book, Geoffrey Hodgson, Research Professor in Business Studies, University of Hertfordshire, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics writes: “Facing massive evidence that people do not act generally as self-regarding payoff maximizers, economists have become increasingly interested in issues of cooperation, altruism, identity, and morality. Lanse Minkler’s contribution is particularly important because of his powerful argument that the evidence of cooperation cannot be explained adequately by a more complicated preference function. A disposition for honesty is not simply a matter of preference—it is an issue of personal integrity, identity, and commitment. This has major implications. In particular we have to reconstruct the theory of the firm from first principles. No economist committed to the pursuit of truth should ignore this volume.”
You can find out more about Integrity and Agreement at University of Michigan Press.
That book follows on the heels of Minkler’s co-edited volume, Economic Rights: Conceptual, Measurement, and Policy Issues. This edited volume offers new scholarship on economic rights by leading scholars in the fields of economics, law, and political science. It analyzes the central features of economic rights: their conceptual, measurement, and policy dimensions. In its introduction, the book provides a new conceptualization of economic rights based on a three-pronged definition: the right to a decent standard of living, the right to work, and the right to basic income support for people who cannot work. Subsequent chapters correct existing conceptual mistakes in the literature, provide new measurement techniques with country rankings, and analyze policy implementation at the international, regional, national, and local levels. While it forms a cohesive whole, the book is nevertheless rich in contending perspectives.
You can find out more about Economic Rights at Cambridge University Press.