Download PDF by Donald E. Frey: America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and

By Donald E. Frey

ISBN-10: 0791493512

ISBN-13: 9780791493519

Strains the background of 2 rival American monetary moralities from colonial occasions to the current.

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Additional info for America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics

Sample text

In between, secular writers such as Benjamin Franklin further anticipated the outlines of the economic morality that was to reach maturity in nineteenth-century laissez-faire. The reasons for this shift have not been our main concern, but several possibilities suggest themselves. Average Americans no doubt adopted highly utilitarian, pragmatic ethics in their dealings with hardship and opportunity in a new land. In addition, wealthier and educated Americans were not sealed off from Enlightenment ideas.

The new political economy, to the contrary, claimed that the public good was automatically served by competitive behavior intended only to serve private interests; it supported this proposition with a set of economic laws. If the resultant economy seemed to contain ills, such as extensive poverty, that outcome was nevertheless believed to be the best that could be produced within the constraints of natural and economic law. This perspective minimized any moral obligation for individuals or society to alleviate economic ills.

The Puritan commonwealths had their covenants with God and the horizons of their relational morality might end at the borders of their holy commonwealths. The Quakers recognized no such boundaries, and their relational morality was in principle universal. The Puritan, perhaps without instinctively sensing it, derived economic morality formally from a theological and scriptural framework that embedded relational ethics. The Quaker morality emerged from a sense of what should be the behavior among the kin; the meaning of Jesus’ life was a model.

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America's Economic Moralists: A History of Rival Ethics and Economics by Donald E. Frey


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