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Economics for Humans

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  • Nelson, Julie A.

Abstract

At its core, an economy is about providing goods and services for human well-being. But many economists and critics preach that an economy is something far different: a cold and heartless system that operates outside of human control. In this impassioned and perceptive work, Julie A. Nelson asks a compelling question: If our economic world is something that we as humans create, aren’t ethics and human relationships—dimensions of a full and rich life—intrinsically part of the picture? Is it possible to take this thing we call economics and give it a body and a soul? Economics for Humans argues against the well-ingrained notion that economics is immune to moral values and distant from human relationships. Here, Nelson locates the impediment to envisioning a more considerate economic world in an assumption that is shared by both neoliberals and the political left. Despite their seemingly insurmountable differences, Nelson notes that they both make use of the metaphor, first proposed by Adam Smith, that the economy is a machine. This pervasive idea, Nelson argues, has blinded us to the qualities that make us work and care for one another—qualities that also make businesses thrive and markets grow. We can wed our interest in money with our justifiable concerns about ethics and social well-being. And we can do so if we recognize that an economy is not a machine, but a living, beating heart that circulates blood to all parts of the body while also serving as an emblem of compassion and care. Nothing less than a manifesto, Economics for Humans will both invigorate and inspire readers to reshape the way they view the economy, its possibilities, and their place within it.

Suggested Citation

  • Nelson, Julie A., 2006. "Economics for Humans," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226572024.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:bkecon:9780226572024
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    Cited by:

    1. Julie A. Nelson, 2013. "Gender and caring," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 5, pages 62-76 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Julie Nelson, 2010. "Getting past “rational man/emotional woman”: comments on research programs in happiness economics and interpersonal relations," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 57(2), pages 233-253, June.
    3. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," GDAE Working Papers 12-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
    4. Ann E. Davis, 2013. "Panglossian Paradox: How Paradigmatic Purity Compromises Policy Effectiveness," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 346-358, November.
    5. Phillip Anthony O’Hara, 2014. "Political Economy of Love: Nurturance Gap, Disembedded Economy and Freedom Constraints within Neoliberal Capitalism," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(2), pages 161-192, March.
    6. Nelson, Julie A., 2009. "Getting Past "Rational Man/Emotional Woman": How Far Have Research Programs in Happiness and Interpersonal Relations Progressed?," Working Papers 179076, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
    7. Nelson, Julie A., 2009. "Between a rock and a soft place: Ecological and feminist economics in policy debates," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 1-8, November.
    8. V. Spike Peterson, 2013. "Informal work," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 11, pages 169-182 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change," GDAE Working Papers 12-04, GDAE, Tufts University.
    10. Julie A. Nelson, "undated". "09-03 "Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion"," GDAE Working Papers 09-03, GDAE, Tufts University.
    11. Nelson, Julie A., 2009. "Economic Writing on the Pressing Problems of the Day: The Roles of Moral Intuition and Methodological Confusion," Working Papers 179069, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
    12. Wicks, Rick, 2011. "Assumption without representation: the unacknowledged abstraction from communities and social goods," MPRA Paper 51674, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Nelson, Julie A., 2010. "Care Ethics and Markets: A View from Feminist Economics," Working Papers 179082, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
    14. Nelson, Julie A., 2011. "Would Women Leaders Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis? Implications for Teaching about Gender, Behavior, and Economics," Working Papers 179096, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
    15. Julie A. Nelson, 2011. "11-03 "Would Women Leaders Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis? Implications for Teaching about Gender, Behavior, and Economics"," GDAE Working Papers 11-03, GDAE, Tufts University.
    16. Joseph Petrick, 2011. "Sustainable Stakeholder Capitalism: A Moral Vision of Responsible Global Financial Risk Management," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 99(1), pages 93-109, February.
    17. Nelson, Julie A., 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," Working Papers 179107, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.

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