29 November 2017

Of the impossibility of finance ethics

Seminar - November 29, 2017

The Ethics and Finance Chair seminar welcomes Ekaterina Svetlova, Associate Professor in finance and accounting at the University of Leicester.

Why is there no such thing as finance ethics? Though there are some sporadic publications on the topic, the field of finance ethics is virtually non-existent (Boatright 2010). The paper seeks to provide reasons for this circumstance.

I argue that all attempts to establish finance ethics so far have been related to a particular understanding of the financial system. Primarily, they have been referring to the traditional conceptualization of financial markets as based on an isolated actor who makes rational decisions, has the capacity to perfectly overlook all implications of their decisions and – on this basis – made responsible for their actions. This understanding of economics and finance suggests to consider consequentialist ethics and responsibility ethics as the most appropriate ethical concepts.

These concepts presuppose that, to assign responsibility, one must be able (1) to identify the moral agency that (2) foresees and intends the consequences of her actions and (3) is in control of these consequences.

In the paper, I discuss the flaws of such accountabilty approaches based on an example of the high-frequency trading (HFT). I demonstrate that all three conditions are not fulfilled in case of HFT. Subsequently, I seek to develop a concept of ethics and responsibility that better fits to the modern “hybrid” markets where humans and machines co-act and share responsibility for systemic effects. I refer to the Björsson’s (2011) concept of joint responsibility without individual control as well as to the Coeckelbergh’s (2012) analysis of responsibility for technological actions based on the Kierkegaardian notion of tragedy.



Wednesday November 29, 2017
5:00pm - 7:00pm

Salle A3-35
FMSH | 54, boulevard Raspail, 75 006 Paris

Free entry

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Presentation in English
Free entry, subject to availability.

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