Values in Finance

Skyline of Rotterdam with the Erasmusbrug and high buildings

“Values in Finance” is a research project in the area of philosophy of economics. It entails a detailed methodological assessment of finance models and theories through the lens of key theories in the philosophy of science, social science and economics regarding scientific values, explanation, and use of models. In addition, it contributes to debates regarding the future of scientific research in finance, especially with regards to non-epistemic value concepts related to sustainability and inclusive prosperity.

Investigating the values at play in financial economics research

Finance is key for inclusive prosperity. Despite the highly theoretical research and sophisticated quantitative methods employed by academic research in finance, it has direct and significant practical implications. It is not clear, however, whether the financial system (that is, financial markets, banks, corporations, and investors) benefits the economy and societies or hinders their development. The financial system can negatively impact the economy through, for example, financial crises, its focus on profit maximization with no regard for society or environment, but it can also facilitate an inclusive economy that fosters prosperity by, for example, stimulating social and sustainable investments, corporate social responsibility, or enabling universal access to financial services, e.g. microfinance or insurance. Many commentators argue that both academic research in finance and actual industry practices have to change drastically if finance is to play a positive role for inclusive prosperity. We evaluate the various proposals for changing and broadening finance research and practice by examining the values that are at play.



Involved Researchers

This is an interdisciplinary research project, founded by researchers of the Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity Initiative.

Dr. Conrad Heilmann - Erasmus School of Philosophy

  • Conrad is a philosopher of economics. He is the co-director of the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE) and co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Economics (Routledge, 2022). In this project, he is most interested in finding out which ethical and epistemic values are and should be at play in finance modeling and theory. Answering these questions will contribute to our understanding of inclusive prosperity. Besides research on the methodology of financial economics, Conrad also works on formulating a new theory of fairness together with Stefan Wintein, and is interested in various other topics in the philosophy of economics and social science. He teaches philosophy of science for graduate students at ERiM.

    Conrad Heilmann – Associate Professor Faculty of Philosophy

Dr. Marta Szymanowska - Rotterdam School of Management

  • Marta is a financial economist. Her research focuses on the relation between financial markets and the real economy, and the philosophy of finance. Marta's work has been published in leading academic journals (Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Management Science). In this project, she is interested in studying how to shape finance research to ensure and maximize its role in facilitating and promoting prosperity through finance. In her macro-finance work, Marta studies the nature of macroeconomic risks and their impact on financial markets, with a particular focus on the global commodity markets. Studying these markets also contributes to understanding the role of finance in fostering inclusive prosperity. 

Dr. Melissa Vergara Fernández - University of Groningen

  • Melissa has a degree in Economics from Universidad de Los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia and a PhD in Philosophy from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her main research interests are in modelling as a scientific practice, particularly in macroeconomics. At the Initiative she is working with Marta Szymanowska and Conrad Heilmann on the philosophy of science of financial economics. Specifically, she is working on understanding the methodological choices made in the use of financial economics models and the epistemic and practical consequences thereof.

Koen van den Bosch - Rotterdam School of Management

  • Koen studies the role of ethical, social, and environmental values in financial markets. The aim is to make a contribution to questions such as how do these values interact with financial risk and return, how do investors with different values behave in financial markets, and what can be the role of a financial market in measuring, pricing, and hedging social, ethical and environmental risks. Koen holds a MSc in Economics and gained experience in strategy consulting prior to starting the PhD.

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