Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ethics, finance, and everything else in the garage

During the down-time I referred to in the last post, I tidied up the garage - well I certainly moved things around quite a bit. And in the process, I dug out an old paper on Finance Theory that I'd written in preparation for a conference on corruption. I don't usually have a script for conferences, or anything else for that matter, but I guess I must have conjured up this one as a safety-net. Well, as I looked through it, one thought led to another, and I decided to write a book on the current financial crisis. I have been working on it since, planning to finish in 6 weeks. My problem is to get a publisher, or maybe an agent, by way of intermediary, to push the project through with similar speed. Wish me luck.

As for the rethink on the 'demarcation' problem, I realised I don't have a solution. On the one hand, I want morality to carry considerable weight, and in some cases to squash all other considerations. On the other, I don't want life, in all its grainy and surprising details, to be subjected to the tryanny of moral rules and regulations. Business, especially in the finance sector, is operating according to ethics-lite standards. My problem is to explain in pragmatic terms how to remedy this without appealing to an absolutist conception of morality. I think that what I need is some sort of 'virtue ethics' approach in which moral goodness, rather than rule-following, is cultivated in human beings so that it becomes part of their nature to do the right thing (i.e. principles and rules are irrelevant, and may even be disregarded when appropriate).

I am taking a break from posting for 10 days in order to concentrate on the book. Then, I may say more on this issue if I have made some progress. But, I will certainly tell you about my other publishing projects that may be of interest.

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