The country's institutions should make economic decisions based on fairness and not wealth, President Michael D Higgins has urged.
In an address on ethics and the economy at Dublin City University, the President also called on the media to highlight political debate on finance issues.
"We need to make sure that all institutions allow for truly democratic deliberations on economic policy choices, that no particular sector gets preferential treatment in the name of a narrow conception of wealth, and that our media do not foreclose political debate on economic matters," Mr Higgins said.
"We should, as a nation, be able to conduct a reflection on economic issues in a way that respects the thread of discourse, even if we are to disagree. "
The President said the current state of the European economy, with its high levels of unemployment, poverty and increasing inequality, had caused "concern, anxiety and even moral outrage".
He said there was still ongoing debate in Ireland and around the globe about the decisions that were made in the aftermath of the financial meltdown in 2008.
"This evening I situate my argument upstream of this debate by suggesting that the problem might not lie so much in a lack of the right answers to this most recent crisis of capitalism as in an absence of the right questions," Mr Higgins said.
The human rights activist and scholar said it was important that people try to live more ethically.
He said education would be central to this and suggested philosophy be introduced in schools to help create a more ethical generation.
"The society we so dearly wish for will not take shape unless we acknowledge the need for an education of character and desires, the need to encourage and support critical reflection and a more holistic approach to knowledge," Mr Higgins said.
"Specifically, there would surely be considerable merit in introducing the teaching of philosophy in our schools, which could facilitate the fostering of an ethical consciousness in our fellow citizens."