Reciprocity in the Civil Economy: a Critical Assessment
Martino María Guadalupe, Müller Christian
The civil economy approach is an attempt to reconcile economic market interactions with the normative standards oftraditional virtue ethics. We analyze critically some of its main elements with a special focus on the concept of reciprocity,which plays a central role in the whole approach. Its strengths include, among others, virtue orientation, emphasis onhappiness rather than utility, and in particular the notion of reciprocity. However, we argue that this concept of reciprocitywould on average not be incentive compatible, and from a methodological point of view, the implied hypothesis ofa homo reciprocans is not a viable alternative to the standard model of homo oeconomicus. We also consider thatthe approach is not entirely new, as it shares many characteristics with the social market economy conception.