Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

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“From Humanistic to Mechanistic Economics – and Back?”

The former director of the Institute, Prof. Dr. Claus Dierksmeier, has published an essay on the fundamental connection between ethics and economics.

Comparing how Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Adam Smith understood economics, Prof. Dr. Claus Dierksmeier states that across centuries and different models of society there was a substantial connection between economics and morality or orientation on the common good. This humanistic understanding of economics has been displaced by the prevailing neoclassical rather mechanistic focus on profit maximization, according to Dierksmeier. Moral considerations play little to no role in economics today and have become merely an attempt to curb particularly harmful forms of economic activity. The business and globalization ethicist therefore believes it is no great surprise that many students of economics view ethics as either irrelevant or even downright antithetical to wealth creation. “The more empirical evidence we get that the real Homo sapiens is far closer to the morally bounded zoon politikon (political animal) of past philosophical traditions than to the fictitious being named Homo economicus, the more reason we have to return from a mechanistic to a humanistic approach in economics, as well.”

Claus Dierksmeier researches and publishes on the idea of freedom, political and economic philosophy, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and the ethics of globalization. From 2012 to 2018, he was director of the Weltethos Institute. Since summer 2018, he has been working at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Tübingen as a professor for “Globalization Ethics with Special Consideration of the Idea of Global Ethics.”