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Ethical Dimensions of the Economy


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Table of Contents

Introduction.- Part I Normative Reflections on the Economy.- Section I Multiple Discourses on the Economy.- The Interconnection of Moral and Economic Theory.- Economics and Politics in the Architectonic of Hegel's Thought.- Section II Hegel and Political Economy.- The Ethical Function of the Economy.- The Economic Order: A Human, No a Natural Institution.- Section III Tightening the Argument.- A Philosophical Dialogue with Economists.- The Concept of 'Merit Good' and the History of Economic Thought.- Objecting t a Libertarian Attack on Governmental Functions in the Economy: The Concept of 'Public Good'.- Part II Applications.- Section I Reflections on the Political Economy in the US.- Structural Deficiencies in the American System.- Unjust Redistribution in the American System.- Section II Challenges in Transforming Command Economies.- The Role of Religion and Civil Society in a Transformed Command Economy.- Section III Philosophy of Economics and Catholic Social Though.- Overlapping Ideas: Catholic Social Thought and Recent Nobel Laureates in Economics.- Conclusion.- References.- Indices.

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"Hegel wrote at a time when mercantilist and physiocratic economic systems were being replaced by free-market capitalist systems, largely due to the influence of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. In the context of early 19th century Germany, Hegel's problematic was the development of a theory of civil society in the context of a hereditary constitutional monarchy and a hereditary upper house of parliament. In that era, what would be the mediating agencies that would facilitate social prosperity through the modern economic developments, but also prevent extremes of poverty and social disruption for individuals left out of the ongoing dynamics? Hegel focused to a great extent on natural social/cultural organizing phenomena, which he called "corporations", including such things as labor groups, professional societies, churches. Since individuals gravitated naturally to such groupings, the key was to provide representation of their voices in government, thus providing an effective rapprochement of the individual with the universal, of nature with "spirit". But if Hegel's theory has worth, how to bring it into synchronization with the mechanics of modern democracies such as that of the United States? Wilfried Ver Eecke, in Hegel's footsteps trying to avoid extremes of laissez-faire libertarianism and socialistic "command economies", turns to the work of the political and economic theorists, Goetz Briefs, Mancur Olson, and Theodore Lowi, searching for answers to continuing questions concerning, taxation, welfare, limits of government intervention, etc. Of particular importance in his analysis is the distinction between public, private, and "merit" goods - the latter being an area insufficiently appreciated. This book is not on abstract economics, but in the continental tradition, and like Hegel, focuses on the interrelationship of politics, economics, ethics, and religion." (Dr. Howard Kainz, Professor Emeritus, Marquette University)


From the reviews:

"This book draws heavily on Hegel to outline ethical dimensions of the economy. ... The book would be most worthwhile for readers who are interested an argument that Hegel's ideas are consistent with standard public goods theory, and with Musgrave's concept of merit goods. ... the book may be more appealing to philosophers who are interested in building a bridge between economics and philosophy to consider the role of government in the economy." (Randall G. Holcombe, Public Choice, Vol. 138, 2009)

"This book is a philosophical and ethical reflection on economics. ... each chapter is preceded by an orienting abstract that points out the major argument that the chapter develops. ... an excellent reading for faculty discussion groups bringing together the social sciences and the humanities." (John Donovan, The Reviews of Metaphysics, Vol. LXIII (2), December, 2009)

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