First published in 1930, this book endeavours to trace and express the relations between economic and human values, between wealth and life. Hobson studies everything from the role of production processes and consumption in the determination of human welfare; to the changing attitudes of economic science towards ethical considerations; as well as the tendency of organised society to exercise a control of economic processes in the interests of equity, humanity, and social order.
Part I of the book deals with an attempt to provide an intelligible and consistent meaning for human value and welfare. Part II sketches the emergence of an economic science and its formal relations to ethics. Part III discusses the ethical significance of certain basic factors in the modern economic system, especially property and market processes. Part IV is addressed to the notion of industrial peace and progress in the light of modern humanism, with especial regard to the new problems emerging in a world becoming conscious of its widening unity.
Part 1: Standards of Welfare 1. The Humanist Approach to Economic Life 2. The Meaning of Welfare 3. Welfare Through Community 4. Standards of Welfare 5. The Hierarchy of Values Part 2: Ethics in the Evolution of Economic Science 6. The Place of Industry in the Life Process 7. The Emergence of Economics as a Science 8. Economic and Ethical Values Part 3: The Ethics of Economic Life 9. Ethics of Property 10. Harmony and Discord in Economic Life 11. The Ethics of Bargaining Part 4: Organic Reforms of the Economic System 12. The Principle of Equitable Distribution 13. How far is Equity Attainable? 14. Incentives to Labour 15. The Supply of Capital