Teaching the Ethical Foundations of Economics

Ten lessons to help instructors and students think critically about ethical issues that arise in economic analyses and in public policies

National Council on Economic Education, 2007

This book introduces ethics into the economics classroom.  . 

Topics include the ethics of markets, the moral limits of markets, efficiency and equity tradeoffs in health care and sweatshop labor, the sale of human organs, social responsibility of business, and the meaning of economic justice.  Students examine alternative ethical frameworks using active exercises including simulations, group decision making, problem solving, classroom demonstrations, and role playing.  The writing of this book was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

A.  Download the lessons:   Teaching the Ethical Foundations of Economics

B.  Download slideshows (PPT) and visuals (PDF):


        Slideshow  - Introduction to Ethics in Economics


        Slideshow Lesson 1       Visuals-1        Handout on the Scientific Process

        Slideshow Lesson 2       Visuals-2

        Slideshow Lesson 3       Visuals-3

        Slideshow Lesson 4       Visuals-4

        Slideshow Lesson 5       Visuals-5

        Slideshow Lesson 6       Visuals-6

        Slideshow Lesson 7       Visuals-7

        Slideshow Lesson 8       Visuals-8

        Slideshow Lesson 9       Visuals-9

        Slideshow Lesson 10     Visuals-10


C. Download workshop planning materials:


        Marketing Plan

        Sample Workshop Agenda

        Workshop Checklist


D. Posters on ethics in economics

        Ethics in Economics Poster

        Teaching Ethical Foundations Poster



Saving Adam Smith -- learn how the founder of economics addressed issues of ethics and economics

Chronicle of Higher Education-- article on ethics and economics (2003)

 The Treatment of Smith's Invisible Hand -- Journal of Economic Education (2007)

Adam Smith and Greed -- Journal of Private Enterprise Education (2005)

Analysis of Friedman's "Social Responsibility of Business" Thesis -- Journal of Markets & Morality (2008)

McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce -- competitive markets promote the widest possible range of virtues

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (Santa Clara University) -- an excellent website for teachers


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