Reckoning with Markets: The Role of Moral Reflection in Economics

Hardcover | March 1, 2012

byJames Halteman, Edd S. Noell

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Undergraduate economics students begin and end their study of economics with the simple claim that economics is value free. Only in a policy role will values and beliefs enter into economic work; there can be little meaningful dialogue by economists about such personal views and opinions. Thisview, now well over 200 years old, has been challenged by heterodox thinkers in economics, and philosophers and social scientists outside the discipline all along the way. However, much of the debate in modern times has been narrowly focused on philosophical methodological issues on one hand ortheological/sectarian concerns on the other. None of this filters down to the typical undergraduate even in advanced courses on the history of economic thought. This book presents the notion that economic thinking cannot escape value judgments at any level and that this understanding has been the dominant view throughout most of history. It shows how, from ancient times, people who thought about economic matters integrated moral reflection into theirthinking. Reflecting on the Enlightenment and the birth of economics as a science, Halteman and Noell illustrate the process by which values and beliefs were excluded from economics proper. They also appraise the reader with relevant developments over the last half-century which offer promise ofre-integrating moral reflection in economic research. With the advent of interdependency concepts and game theory, behavioral economics and the infusion of other social sciences, especially psychology, into economic considerations, the door is once again open to moral reflection. It is a sensitive subject that can be divisive for many and there islittle if any assessable literature on the topic at the undergraduate level. One way to approach the subject is to follow the path of the great thinkers of the past and observe how they worked through economic issues from a set of values that was foundational to their thinking. This places moralthinking in a context illuminating the complexity and importance of moral reflection and illustrating its impact on the culture of the times. Reckoning with Markets follows this method with a deliberate effort to cast the material in terms that will engage the undergraduate student. A number of vignettes which apply the perspectives of key figures in the history of economic thought to modern values and policy questions areprovided.

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Undergraduate economics students begin and end their study of economics with the simple claim that economics is value free. Only in a policy role will values and beliefs enter into economic work; there can be little meaningful dialogue by economists about such personal views and opinions. Thisview, now well over 200 years old, has been...

James Halteman is Hendrickson Professor of Business and Economics at Wheaton College, IL. He teaches courses in Intermediate Microeconomics, Government Finance, European Political Economy, International Business, and the History of Economic Thought. Edd Noell is Professor of Economics and Business at Westmont College. His research and ...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 5.79 × 8.39 × 0.91 inPublished:March 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199763704

ISBN - 13:9780199763702

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Setting the Stage2. Moral Reflection in the Ancient Mediterranean World3. Virtue and Values in Scholastic Economic Thought4. Adam Smith and the Prospects for Moral Reflection in Enlightenment Thinking5. The Secularization of Political Economy6. Moral Reflection in Heterodox Economics7. On Methods and Morals8. Expanding and Reorienting the Scope of Economic Thinking9. Predicting, Explaining and Understanding: An Interdisciplinary ApproaBibliography