What is Happiness? Ratzinger as a Critique of Orthodox Utilitarian Economics

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An incomplete list of alternative ethical theories is potentially dangerous and misleading. The current economic literature contains a number of critiques of the currently dominant orthodox utilitarian approach. Another position of social importance is available, beyond those that are commonly recognised. It offers an alternative conception of human ontology and teleology and carries its own distinct implications for the functioning of an economy and for how economics is taught. It is distilled here from the writings of Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). This ‘Ratzinger alternative’ derives from different conceptions of man, of freedom and of rationality - and therefore of happiness - than those found in orthodox economics and the rapidly growing ‘happiness literature’ in economics. It differs too from the critiques of Sen, Rawls, Posner and other alternatives to neoclassical orthodoxy. The perspective outlined by Ratzinger therefore stand as a potentially important addition to economic theory and makes available a new avenue for the future direction of economic research, insofar as it comes to be accepted by the profession as offering a legitimate perspective on economics, in addition to his more widely accepted perspective on ethics and theology.


Keywords: Economic Philosophy, Happiness, Religion, Ratzinger
Stream: Economics and Management
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: ,


Andrew Hodge

PhD Student, School of Economics
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, The University of Queensland

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Andrew Hodge is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Queensland. His current research focus is economic philosophy, the economics of happiness and inequality measurement.

Ref: I08P0495