Surveying Recent Literature on Economic Theory and Morality

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Recently, economics, both as a science and as a profession, has fallen under scrutiny by authors from various fields. A common theme in the critical literature is the idea that economics has morally lost its way and must be reformed. Each of the books discussed in this review studies perceived problems with economics: in economic theory, policy, and in the economics profession itself. I survey the merits and failings of this literature.In short, the books by Joseph Pearce and John D. Mueller are severely lacking in content that is both original and sound. Some of their criticisms of mainstream economics strike home, but such passages are sadly the exception rather than the rule. It is more often the case that confusion, misreading, insufficient evidence, and faulty reasoning cripple their analyses. Robert H. Nelson’s book, on the other hand, provides a well-researched, fascinating study of the evolution of two leading secular religions, economics and environmentalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-200
Number of pages21
JournalThe Journal of Markets & Morality
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • economics and ethics
  • value freedom
  • value
  • exchange
  • economic growth
  • resource economics


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