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The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior$
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David C. Rose

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199781744

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199781744.001.0001

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Harm-Based Moral Restraint

Harm-Based Moral Restraint

Chapter:
(p.81) Chapter 5 Harm-Based Moral Restraint
Source:
The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior
Author(s):

David C. Rose

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199781744.003.0005

This chapter argues that it because humans are naturally reluctant to harm others, most people in most of the world most of the time do not behave opportunistically. It advances a theory of harm-based moral restraint based on how feelings of guilt drive up the internal cost of behaving opportunistically. Guilt is triggered by feelings of sympathy that are, in turn, triggered by empathizing with harmed victims. The origins of the psychological mechanisms of guilt, sympathy, and empathy are discussed. Guilt is shown to have uniquely important qualities for effectuating moral restraint. Empathy, sympathy, guilt, and interpersonal utility effects are all accounted for in a simple model that provides a framework for subsequent analysis in the book.

Keywords:   empathy, interpersonal utility effects, guilt, other-regarding preferences, sympathy

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