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Economics: A Moral Inquiry with Religious Origins

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  • Benjamin M. Friedman

Abstract

In contrast to the standard interpretation of the origins of economics out of the secular European Enlightenment of the 18th century, the transition in thinking that we rightly identify with Adam Smith and his contemporaries and followers, which gave us economics as we now know it, was powerfully influenced by then-controversial changes in religious belief in the English-speaking Protestant world in which they lived: in particular, key aspects of the movement away from orthodox Calvinism. Further, those at-the-outset influences of religious thinking not only fostered the subsequent spread of Smithian thinking, especially in America, but shaped the course of its reception. The ultimate result was a variety of fundamental resonances between economic thinking and religious thinking that continue to influence our public discussion of economic issues, and our public debate over economic policy, today.

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  • Benjamin M. Friedman, 2011. "Economics: A Moral Inquiry with Religious Origins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 166-170, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:166-70
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
    2. Ralph Barton Perry, 1916. "Economic Value and Moral Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 443-485.
    3. Lawrence White & W. Scott Frame, 2004. "Fussing and Fuming over Fannie and Freddie: How Much Smoke, How Much Fire?," Working Papers 04-27, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Individual Irrationality and Aggregate Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 43-66, Fall.
    5. Boulding, Kenneth E, 1969. "Economics as a Moral Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1-12.
    6. W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2005. "Fussing and Fuming over Fannie and Freddie: How Much Smoke, How Much Fire?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 159-184, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yann Giraud & Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2014. "Chasing the B: A Bibliographic Account of Economics’ Relation to its Past, 1991-2011," THEMA Working Papers 2014-09, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    2. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 395-441.
    3. Sriya Iyer, 2016. "The New Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 395-441.
    4. José-Alberto Guerra & Myra Mohnen, 2017. "Multinomial choice with social interactions: occupations in Victorian London," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015667, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. Li, Cheng, 2015. "Morality and Value Neutrality in Economics: A Dualist View," MPRA Paper 67264, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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