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Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 49, 2018

Philosophy of Economics

Domingo García-Marza, Elsa Gonzalez Esteban
Pages 23-28

Ethics in Institutional Design

In recent years, applied ethics has taken on board the various dimensions of public reason that can no longer be reduced to the political construction of a common will. While the question of a just society has traditionally been found in the political dimension, the state and its institutions, current globalization has broken this state monopoly over what is public, opening the way for other institutional actors with the same or greater power to intervene in the public space, actors that have little or nothing to do with representation, majority rule, etc. As the current financial downturn clearly demonstrates, states are pandering to the markets, striving to ‘get their houses in order’ to meet the demands imposed by the global financial magnates. It seems, at least to most citizens, that public politics, like the state’s capacity to deal with social and economic rights, no longer depends on either governments or their ability to govern. So should they be left out of a public reason that is capable of explaining whether they are just or otherwise? The ethical perspective –known to be a critical perspective– cannot remain silent about this new scenario. The present proposal attempts to combine applied ethics, which takes in the logic of social practices, with new contributions from institutional design theories that set out to analyse the power and responsibility of these institutions from ‘inside’, as institutional actors. In this short paper my analysis focuses on the ethical dimension of institutional design, specifically in a proposal for an institutional ethics that is a fundamental part of any applied ethics. The paper aims to explain in what way we can speak of an institutional morality to demonstrate that these civil society institutional actors hold some of the responsibility for facing the problems of defining and managing what is public.