Economy and Empathy

Frederik Friedjohn Olsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this assignment, I investigate the relationship between economic motivations, such as competition andrational economic behavior beyond what we understand as emphatic characteristics between humans. To doso, I raise the questions of moral philosophy contributed by Adam Smith next to his philosophy of a freemarket. Here, I investigate how human emotions contribute to a moral philosophy, as well as the socialsignificance of the “invisible hand”. In this case, the moral philosophy, i.e. the emotions people display, serveas a normative understanding of how human should act. Moral philosophy tells to act in compliance to a freemarket where rational and selfish behavior serve as the primary drive to accomplish optimal utility.The moral philosophy contributed by Adam Smith, serves as the drive that encourages all people to work forhis or her share with an upright behavior. When Adam Smith highlights the “Wealth of Nations” he emphasizesthe benefits of the division of labor next to moral philosophy, as it serves as a dynamic that can divide thewealth among the population as well as create welfare though its social dynamics. In thus, the metaphysics ofthe invisible hand serve as the effort that creates wealth though the market, but also the social bond throughthe advancement of an ethical human behavior. Next to Adam Smith, Émile Durkheim has explained whymoral philosophy is the primary factor that creates social cohesions. Here he highlights the significance ofmorality adjacent to science, that morality creates social cohesions in the sense of equality. Here the sense ofequality is represented by common sense and in the needs of diversity.Lately, Thomas Piketty has displayed how the division of capital has advanced into an unequal distribution.According to Piketty, the distribution of capital today is channeled into a very little, very rich, group of capitalowners. This displays that the division of labor has not been measured by a social dynamic such as moralityon the market, as this creates a bigger gap between the rich and the poor.In Denmark Ove Kaj Pedersen has introduced the competitive state (konkurrencestaten) as the next societymodel for the Danish population. The competitive state emerges from a prior community, based on moralityand human dignity, here the lack of incitements on the market, led to that new dynamics as efficiency andopportunism are preferred and valued. This leads to a greater mobility and flexibility in a market that isincreasingly growing global. Nevertheless, the cost of such preferences leads to a confused social cohesionbetween individuals in the Danish population, as well as a lack of sense in feeling how the social dynamicswill evolve in the future. In this case, the empathy between people appears to be changing, affecting thesignificance of sympathy and respect in the economy, which will influence the market dynamics such as inregards to the gap between the rich and poor.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages74
SupervisorsOle Bjerg