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Is Malthus relevant post-Copenhagen?

December 23, 2009 17 comments

Is Malthus relevant post-Copenhagen?

Thomas Malthus died on December 23rd 1834. The work of Malthus raises two important questions. First, are there now too many of us? Second, are there now too many of us doing things we shouldn’t be doing? These are problems of fact and value. The problem for economics has always been how to conjoin the two. The positive-normative distinction has always been a curious one for a social science since its ultimate unit of analysis is an evaluating being that lives immersed in systems of values.

The positive-normative distinction derives much of its authority from Hume’s guillotine. The guillotine is: Read more…

Banking on Heaven

November 29, 2009 1 comment

Banking on Heaven: economics as confessional

 Jamie Morgan

‘I should like,’ said young Jolyon, ‘to lecture on it: “Properties and quality of a Forsyte. This little animal, disturbed by the ridicule of his own sort, is unaffected in his motions by the laughter of strange creatures (you or I). Hereditarily disposed to myopia, he recognises only the persons and habitats of his own species, amongst which he passes an existence of competitive tranquillity.”’ John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga.

The recent comment in the Sunday Times (8/11/09) by the Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, that banks serve a ‘social purpose’ and do ‘God’s work,’ was a controversial one. Reference to the Almighty in business and banking often leads to satirical exegesis. Many might respond that the liturgy of banks is public worship of quite another kind than might be ascribed to a divine being. Others might suggest that Read more…

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