Seminar series on Business Ethics, Social Responsibility and Sustainability 14 December 2016


Seminar 1: Ethics and Finance: Reciprocity as the Foundation for Financial Economics

Date and venue: 16.00 14 December 2016, B5 AMBS East

Speaker:  Dr Timothy Johnson, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences; Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Timothy Johnson graduated in physics and then worked in the oil exploration business developing practical experience of decision making processes in the face of uncertainty.  He studied for an MSc in Financial Mathematics and then a PhD in Applied Probability at Kings College London.  He was appointed ‘RCUK Academic Fellow in Financial Mathematics’ in 2006 and during the course of the Financial Crises that began in 2007 he became interested in the relationship between mathematics and ethics.  He publishes in applied probability and social sciences.


Financial economics is usually regarded as being under-socialised.  In contrast, I argue that deeply embedded in the Fundamental Theorem of Asset Pricing, foundational to the mathematics of financial economics, is the concept of reciprocity that is associated with justice, the ‘virtue’ necessary for social cohesion.  I place this observation in the context of Habermas by associating reciprocity with the objective validity claim for discourse in financial markets.  I argue that this objective validity claim must be supported by sincerity, the subjective, and charity, the social validity claims.  I give examples of how charity and sincerity have been manifested in market practice, particularly before the nineteenth century.

Seminar series on Business Ethics, Social Responsibility and Sustainability

In line with the Research with Impact strategic priority under the University’s Goal 3 agenda Social Responsibility and Engagement Committee at AMBS is launching a seminar series in 2016-2017. The purpose of the seminar series is to invite researchers from AMBS and other business schools to present their work for discussion and also to explore new avenues in thinking and researching the area.

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