93070 - Ethics And Markets

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Economics and Finance (cod. 8835)

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students are aware and are able to understand the ethical and strategic implications, complexity and dilemmas of corporate responsibility and sustainability. They learn about motivations in markets, ethics of individual actions and their effect in societies and the tensions between markets and distributive justice.

Course contents

The course is an attempt to reclaim economics as a moral science. It argues that ethics is a relevant and inseparable aspect of all levels of economic activity. Taking ethical considerations into account is needed in explaining and predicting the behaviour of economic agents as well as in evaluating and designing economic policies and mechanisms. A number of cases and references to major recent phenomena will complement the theoretical landscape.

Schedule of topics.

1. The nature of moral agency. Modes of agency. A social cognitive theory of morality.

2.A comparison of different theories: utilitarianism, deontologism, vrtue ethics

3. Neuroethics and the corporate world. The corporation as a moral agent. Is business ethics adequate?

4. Finance, arbitrage and ethics. The ethical limits of arbitrage. Arbitraging regulatory and market structures.

5. The legislator's dilemma. A mandate for Aristotle's Legislator

6. Is bribery without a remedy? The forgotten law of lobbying. The anticorruption principle and the working of competitive markets.

7. Which ethics in the time of immaterial capitalism?

8.The inclusive capitalism project: meaning and possibilities of realization

9. Political Economy versus Civil Economy: a comparison of two economic paradigms.


A. Bandura (2016), Moral Disengagement, New York, MacMillan

L. Bruni, S. Zamagni, Civil economy, London, Agenda, 2017

C. R. Sunstein, Liars. Falsehoods and free speech in an age of deception, Oxford, OUP, 2021

A. Carr, Is business bluffing ethical?, "Harvard Business Review", XI, 1968

A., Falck, N. Szech, "Morals and Markets", Science, May 2013, 707-712.

M. O'Hara (2016), Something for nothing. Arbitrage and Ethics on Wall Street, New York, Norton

S. Bowles (2016), The moral economy, New Haven, Yale University Press

C.B. Frey, The technology trap. Capital, labour and power in the age of automation, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2019

R. Henderson, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, New York, Public Affairs, 2020.

C. Wilber, Was the Good Samaritan a Bad Economist?", New York, Lexington Books, 2021

K. Pistor, The code of capital. How the law creates wealth and inequality, Princeton, PUP, 2019

P. Rona, L. Zsolnai (eds.), (2017), Economics as a moral science, Berlin, Springer

Z. Teachout (2014), Corruption in America, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press

R. Valentini et Al. (eds.), Achieving sustainable development goals, Berlin, Springer, 2020.

S. Zamagni, "The idea of CSR and the responses of economic theory", in L. Bouchaert et Al. (eds.), Art, Spirituality, Economics, Berlin, Springer, 2018

Oxford Dictionary of Business Ethics, Oxford, OUP, 2017

Teaching methods

Lectures and in class discussions

Assessment methods

A 7000 words final paper on a topic freely chosen by the student among those dealt with in the course to be sent by email to the teacher not beyond Sept. 30, 2021.

Students are advised that the present course is a PASS/FAIL one. The PASS evaluation can never be translated into a numerical grade in the official transcript of records.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Zamagni


No poverty Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.