Normative Ethics and Welfare Economics

October 21-22, 2016

Harvard Business School Campus | Open to public


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Normative issues are becoming increasingly central in economics, from optimal income taxation to market design to financial regulation to climate policy. The aim of this conference is to bring together economists and philosophers to discuss the ethical foundations of economic policy evaluations. The conference will focus on themes ranging from population ethics and the weight that should be given to the worst off in policy evaluation to forbidden transactions and the boundaries of markets to business ethics. There will also be talks on the role of reasons as opposed to preferences as a basis for normative evaluation, the justification of policy in terms of public reasons, and relevance of psychology and advances in behavioral economics to welfare assessments.

This conference will be the second in a series. The first was funded by the Becker-Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago in 2014, and videos from that conference are available at:

This conference is divided into seven main sessions, each devoted to a different normative question. In each session, both economic and philosophical perspectives will be presented, and ample time will be provided for audience discussion. The conference will close with a distinguished panel of economists and philosophers, who will discuss the themes raised by the conference.

Conference Organizers:
Itai Sher
Matthew Weinzierl