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Religion and the rise of capitalism

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First edition.

"Where do our ideas about economics and economic policy come from? Critics of contemporary economics complain that belief in free markets, among economists and many ordinary citizens too, is a form of religion. It turns out that there is something to the idea: not in the way the critics mean, but in a deeper, more historically grounded sense. Contrary to the conventional historical view of economics as entirely a secular product of the Enlightenment, religion exerted a powerful influence from the outset. Benjamin M. Friedman demonstrates that the foundational transition in thinking about what we now call economics, beginning in the eighteenth century, was decisively shaped by the hotly contended lines of religious thought within the English-speaking Protestant world. Beliefs about God-given human character, about our destiny after this life, and about the purpose of our existence, were all under challenge in the world in which Adam Smith and his contemporaries lived. Those debates explain the puzzling behavior so many of our fellow citizens whose views about economic policies, and whose voting behavior too, seems sharply at odds with what would be to their own economic benefit. Understanding the origins of the relationship between religious thinking and economic thinking, together with its ongoing consequences, provides insights into our current economic policy debates and ways to shape more functional policies for all citizens"--

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Walworth-Seely Public Library 330.12 Friedman (Text)
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