Dissertation: Socio-economic crisis result of moral hazard

Uutisen oletuskuva
According to Anne Thil-Jääskeläinen’s doctoral thesis, the recent economic crisis in the western countries were caused by moral hazard. This kind of development is possible in the circumstances where the traditional moral codes are no longer valid.
Viime vuosien talouskriisit ovat väitöskirjan mukaan seurausta siitä, että perinteiset moraalikäsitykset ovat kadonneet. Kuvassa velkakriisin ahdistamia kreikkalaisia osoittamassa mieltä Ateenassa. Kuva: Flickr CC

In the western world modernisation and rationalisation has changed the social process in a way that the importance of the economic, political, and administrative functions is increasingly emphasized at the cost of functions caring for internal preservation.

– The economy and its goals have begun to dominate the functioning of other social institutions and has made the integration into the process of institutions sustaining value-based normative rules more difficult or even impossible, says Thil-Jääskeläinen who will defend her thesis at the University of Vaasa on Friday.

The sovereign and swiftly changing social reality is in danger to leave behind large-scale societal and social problems – together with increasing social insecurity, and a communal development tending towards crisis.

No place for ethics in neo-liberalism

According to Thil-Jääskeläinen, the neo-liberal economic mindset has left little room for ethics, for which modern scientific institutions engaged in economics are partly to blame, with their narrow investigational priorities.

– The recent economic crisis might be considered largely the expression of a crisis at the moral level, relating to failures in ethical economic behavior, Thil-Jääskeläinen says.

She sees that Smith's utilitarianism has been reduced to a concept relating merely to the "pursuit of self interest" – and the central theses of classical utilitarianism, according to which morality should not be defined merely as a background motivation based on views of individual benefit, but rather as a system of bonds underlying all of communal life, have been forgotten.

The actions of markets also belong in the 'cosmic' field, in an area of socio-economic activity in which the criteria cannot be set only in terms of measures of economic benefit, but should have a deeper justification in value philosophy.

With progress in European integration, 'cultural orientation' as a reflective stance, and functional models based on normative mindsets, have begun to gain increasing importance in forming the ethics of human rights and a consistent value base.

– Such things cannot, however, be achieved through economic actions alone, but require also the guiding involvement of administrative and state authorities as well as long-term goal orientation, emphasising the importance of values for the integration brought about by commitment to shared goals and thereby their influence on ethics, as well as the value of decision-making bound to normative rules against the hegemony of money and administrative power, Thil-Jääskeläinen says.

Alternative frameworks

The purpose of Thil-Jääskeläinen’s study was to discover what kind of socio-economic objective setting could prevent such a development and what kind of value functional challenges this includes.

Thil-Jääskeläinen’s research task was to analyse the functions of value-based and legal norms in structuring social interaction, applying a sociology of knowledge approach to the analysis of communal and social action. At the centre has been an examination of these reflectances, particularly in relation to economic activity.

The research also asks whether teleological objective setting following primarily consequentialist ethics can guarantee requirements relating to future economic and social responsibility and the well-being of individuals and society - the individual "good life" in the broadest sense.

Methodologically framework representing structure-functionalist social theory - mainly the normative approach of Talcott Parsons. Themes relating to "the social construction of reality" was analysed not in an empirical but on the epistemological level between "reality" and related "knowledge".

To the extent that the research interest has been to analyse socio-cultural functional reflections in the legal and economic development of societies, research approach has been both historical and systematic. The interaction between the economy and the legal, social, and value-based functions of society has been analysed in the context of moral economic thinking.

Public defence

The public examination of LL.B. Anne Thil-Jääskeläinen’s doctoral dissertation “Arvojen integratiivinen funktio. Tiedonsosiologinen analyysi arvoperusteisten ja oikeudellisten normien funktioista yhteiskunnallisten vuorovaikutussuhteiden jäsentäjänä, erityisesti taloudellisen toimintafunktion näkökulmasta tarkasteltuna” will be held on Friday 18 March at 12 o´clock in auditorium Kurten (C203, Tervahovi). The field of dissertation is business law.

Professor Hannu Laurila (University of Tampere) will act as opponent and professor Juha Lindgren as custos. The examination will be held in Finnish.

Publication orders and pdf

Further information: Anne Thil-Jääskeläinen, email: thilanne(at)kolumbus.fi

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