This is part two of a three-part series on moral preferences, social groups and economics. It comes to about 13 printed pages — Dave
On questions of morality, contemporary economics stands mute. Writing about Adam Smith in the aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008, Harvard's Amartya Sen put it bluntly—
The nature of the present economic crisis illustrates very clearly the need for departures from unmitigated and unrestrained self-seeking in order to have a decent society.
The United States is no longer a decent society, taking the 1950's and 1960's to be The Golden Age. Even if the post-WWII decades weren't actually so golden, at least we can confidently assert that simple decency has declined precipitously in the United States. Decency can be defined in terms of the moral criteria 1) fairness and reciprocity and 2) harm and suffering. I discussed these general and partly innate moral preferences in Part I, called Homo sapiens — The Rationalizing Animal.