By Duncan K. Foley

This booklet can be known as “The clever Person’s consultant to Economics.” Like Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, it makes an attempt to give an explanation for the center rules of the nice economists, starting with Adam Smith and finishing with Joseph Schumpeter. In among are chapters on Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, the marginalists, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, and Thorstein Veblen. The identify expresses Duncan Foley’s trust that economics at its such a lot summary and engaging point is a speculative philosophical discourse, no longer a deductive or inductive technology. Adam’s fallacy is the try and separate the industrial sphere of lifestyles, during which the pursuit of self-interest is led via the invisible hand of the marketplace to a socially worthy end result, from the remainder of social existence, during which the pursuit of self-interest is morally tricky and should be weighed opposed to different ends.

Smith and his successors argued that the industry and the department of work that's fostered by means of it lead to super profits in productiveness, which result in the next lifestyle. but the marketplace doesn't handle the matter of distribution—that is, how is the achieve in wealth to be divided one of the periods and participants of society? Nor does it deal with such difficulties because the long-run wellbeing and fitness of the planet.

Adam’s Fallacy is fantastically written and includes fascinating observations and insights on virtually each web page. it's going to have interaction the reader’s recommendations and emotions at the private level.


Consciously written instead to Robert Heilbroner's vintage The Worldly Philosophers, this ebook units out to discover and critique the lives and ideas of the nice economists. either books commence with Adam Smith, even though Foley discusses basically 8 of Heilbroner's sixteen economists and provides much less aspect on each one. the place Heilbroner celebrates the overlap among economics and different human actions, Foley criticizes "Adam's Fallacy," the synthetic department among the industrial sphere, within which pursuit of self-interest results in social stable, and the social sphere, during which sturdy effects from unselfish activities. Uncritical recognition of the fallacy, which the writer labels "economic theology," results in the idea that momentary fiscal achieve inevitably favors imprecise, long term social earnings. Unemployment and cultural destruction brought on by unfastened exchange, for instance, are overlooked from a naïve religion that unrestrained alternate ends up in a better reliable for a better quantity. Foley reveals a few brilliance and rigor within the works of all his topics, whereas additionally accusing them of sloppy considering unsupported by way of information, which has resulted in heartless, erroneous regulations. even if, his particular criticisms are light and technical. Readers who wish an abridged model of Heilbroner will like this greater than readers who are looking to comprehend the elemental error of economics. (Sept.)

Duncan Foley has written a fair-minded and extremely well-written heritage of financial considering equipped by way of the topic introduced in his name. He contends that fiscal considering has been ruled through incorrect makes an attempt to split confident research from ethical judgment. This leitmotif has enabled him to create a unified presentation, that allows you to be very precious to the final reader. (Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University)

This realized and energetic e-book reconnects economics to the complexities and conflicts of politics and society, and powerfully reminds us that there are not any mounted, helpful, or inevitable legislation that govern markets. via tracing the historical past of financial considering as a kind of engagement with values and rules, it additionally thoughtfully beckons us to understand jointly the dual demanding situations of medical realizing and ethical reasoning. (Ira Katznelson, Columbia University)

Adam's Fallacy is a stimulating travel d'horizon of the information of the nice economists. In transparent, available prose, Duncan Foley, a famous theorist himself, describes what they wrote and what their paintings capability at the present time, supplying an insightful and thought-provoking critique of economics. (Stanley Engerman, college of Rochester)

Foley will get deep into the analytical content material of significant colleges of notion, score Adam's Fallacy up there with Heilbroner's vintage. (Robert Solow long island evaluate of Books 2006-11-16)

So what's 'Adam's Fallacy?'...It is the concept the industrial sphere of lifestyles constitutes a separate realm 'in which the pursuit of self-interest is guided by means of aim legislation to a socially beneficent outcome'...Professor Foley's booklet is at the same time an creation to monetary thought and a critique of it. it truly is his model of the vintage advent for the economically challenged by means of Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, now in its 7th variation. Adam's Fallacy concentrates extra at the worldly philosophies instead of at the philosophers, on financial thought instead of at the characters and occasions that besides Mr. Heilbroner's masterly storytelling gave The Worldly Philosophers rather a lot colour and verve...By wondering fiscal theory's cordoning off of an financial spheres of existence governed by means of its personal legislation and services, Professor Foley is implicitly presenting limits to the secularization that's an underlying attribute of modernity. Secularization has intended that during a cultural transformation, significant parts of human job set themselves up as quasi-autonomous, with their very own criteria, experts, and guiding ideas. (Peter Steinfels ny instances 2006-11-25)

[A] passionate ebook, to be welcomed in a self-discipline significantly with out ardour. [Adam's Fallacy] might be learn for excitement and enlightenment by way of economists and non-economists alike. (David Throsby occasions Literary complement 2007-03-23)

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Extra info for Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology

Sample text

Smith maintains that what matters to a country is the real development of its productive resources—people, land, and capital—rather than its cash money holdings. A country with a large and well-developed productive base will in the end have more resources to pursue its policy goals through diplomatic and military means. Smith, in fact, believes that the nation is best off with the smallest gold stock it can manage, because holding gold diverts capital from productive enterprises that turn a profit.

In a rough and average sense this is probably true, but there are many circumstances in which profit and interest rates can move in opposite directions. Certainly capitalists cannot afford to pay interest rates above their profit rates for very long (though they may do so temporarily in order to stay in business for the long haul), and competition among capitalists for funds generally will tend to pull interest rates above zero. The profit rate falls with accumulation Smith argues that profit rates (like real wages) will vary from place to place and over time, so that it is impossible to settle on one level of the profit rate as normal or appropriate.

Since Britain depended on its naval strength to defend itself against continental European powers, a pool of experienced seamen and ongoing ship-building facilities were an important national security asset. Smith endorses these navigation measures on this ground, despite his recognition that under laissez-faire British capital would not be able to appropriate the average profit rate in shipping and ship-building, and that these sectors would become much smaller. This general concern continues to arise in contemporary political economic debates.

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