This lecture by Professor Andrew Sayer was given on the 13th June 2013 at WU, Vienna University of Economics & Business at the invitation of Professor Clive L. Spash.
In the talk Andrew first defends a 'moral economy' approach, which argues that economic institutions and practices must be simultaneously explained and evaluated in terms of their implications for human well-being. In particular the justifications typically provided for particular economic arrangements, such as specific kinds of property relations and divisions of labour, need to be critically assessed. He then uses this approach in assessing common legitimations of sources of wealth. Here the distinction between earned and unearned or asset-based income is crucial for understanding the role of wealth extraction in contemporary economies. He argues that divisions of labour which separate out good quality from poor quality kinds of work create 'contributive injustices', and that because such kinds of division of labour are taken for granted and naturalised, they are widely assumed to justify distributive inequalities.