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Durham e-Theses
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Trust as an Economic Virtue: a Theological Critique of Experimental Economics

BAUMGARTNER, NICOLAS,JACQUES (2020) Trust as an Economic Virtue: a Theological Critique of Experimental Economics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 22 June 2023.

Abstract

How do we explain the phenomenon of trust? Catholic theologians on the one hand, and economists on the other, will provide differing answers. The reason is that their assumptions about human behaviour are at odds: whilst theologians tend to assume a moral economy where individuals and societies are called to act on their free will to pursue the common good by trusting and being trustworthy, economists tend to assume that human beings are driven by a utility-maximising self-interested behaviour.

How trust is construed in turn directly shapes how economic experiments are built and influences their results; these then impact policy-making. Theologians with a different understanding of trust would be particularly naïve to accept the insights of those experiments; they must question how their conclusions were drawn, especially if political decisions on which they are based impact the lives of many.

This thesis explores two main claims: firstly, that experimental economics is highly problematic from a theological perspective and that a differentiated method is necessary to apprehend the full reality of trust within a moral economy. That is because differing anthropological and metaphysical assumptions underly the two disciplines. Secondly, that theologians ought to attend to the empirical world in order to inform their own economic ethics. That is because theology stands a better chance of being heard in a public context if it is able to depart from an abstract normativity and engage with empirical sciences.

Finally, this thesis shows how an intelligent dialogue between theology and economics can only take place if both disciplines engage with a shared epistemology to engage with the empirical world and develop a common approach with their respective functional specialisations. It does so building particularly on the critical realist thought of Bernard Lonergan SJ and Tony Lawson.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Trust, Experimental Economics, Theology, Lonergan, Lawson, Critical Realism, Philosophy of Economics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Jun 2020 08:41

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