Moral Agents in the Financial Sector. The Development, Preservation and Dissemination of Moral Norms in the Economy

The project “Moral Agents in the Financial Sector” analyzed the emergence, dissemination and efficacy of normative principles and actions on the financial markets from the perspective of economic sociology.
Markets were not regarded merely as functional, norm-free subsystems that operate exclusively in accordance with the rules of competition and of profit maximization. It turns out instead that, for the actors themselves, market activities constitute an order of action structured by ethical norms in which as a result they (can) also take their guidance from normative reasons.
The theme of the project was pursued in two lines of research: The first consisted in developing a normative understanding of the relationship between individual moral action and organizational structures. The second strand of research addressed the question of what ethics can mean in the financial marketplace in connection with the more general issue of the normative structures of markets as such.
The manuscript “Reclaiming the System: Transformational Agency in Organizations” by project collaborator Lisa Herzog was submitted as a postdoctoral dissertation to the Faculty of Philosophy at Goethe University Frankfurt. This study examined the specific challenges that moral actors face as a result of their role in organizations, and used an innovative methodology that connects empirical findings with normative issues. Among the topics discussed are how morally relevant knowledge is processed in complex organizations, how moral actors relate to their professional role, and the responsibility for maintaining an organizational culture in which moral problems can be thematized and addressed.
Among other publications, a survey article has appeared in the English-language “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” dealing with the importance of ethics in the financial market and in markets in general. In addition, a variety of perspectives on the normative value of markets are brought together in a collection of essays coedited by the PI and the project collaborator in which the selected texts are supplemented by explanatory introductions.

The most important publications of this project:

Herzog, Lisa: Reclaiming the System. Transformational Agency in Organizations (Habilitation), forthcoming.

Herzog, Lisa (ed.): Just Financial Markets? Finance in a Just Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Herzog, Lisa and Axel Honneth (eds.): Der Wert des Marktes, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2014.

Herzog, Lisa: “Eigentumsrechte im Finanzsystem. Rechtfertigungen und Reformimpulse“, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 62(3), 2014, pp. 415–442.

Herzog, Lisa: “Markets”, in: Edward N. Zalta (ed.): The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013, [online] [05.10.2017].


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