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The Acting Person: Social Capital and Sustainable Development


  • Edward O’Boyle


Ron Stanfield has had a long and distinguished career as a social economist and commentator on the social economy. Of special concern to us in this article are Stanfield’s interests in social capital, sustainable development, and nurturance which we refer to as caring. We also take up several other virtues including sympathy, benevolence, and generosity that have been part of the economics literature from the time of Smith’s Moral Sentiments along with the associated vices of heartlessness, insensitivity, meanness, greediness, and others. This article attempts to show that (1) adding social capital to the machine-like individual of mainstream economics results in the acting person of personalist economics who becomes more fully a human person through social interactions that foster the development of several virtues or less fully a human person through other interactions that instill certain vices; and that (2) in matters relating to sustainability, becoming more fully a human person calls especially for the practice of the virtues of justice and moderation. In addition we have suggested a framework for thinking about sustainable development in terms of actuating and limiting principles and for developing critical values or performance standards for sustainable development that are person-centered.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward O’Boyle, 2011. "The Acting Person: Social Capital and Sustainable Development," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 79-98, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:40:y:2011:i:1:p:79-98
    DOI: 10.1007/s12143-010-9067-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George J. Borjas, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-150.
    2. Stanfield, James Ronald & Stanfield, Jacqueline B., 1997. "Where has love gone? Reciprocity, redistribution, and the Nurturance Gap," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 111-126.
    3. Edward O'Boyle, 2001. "Personalist Economics: Unorthodox and Counter-Cultural," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 59(4), pages 367-393.
    4. repec:mes:jeciss:v:35:y:2001:i:2:p:469-476 is not listed on IDEAS
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