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Morality and Power

On Ethics, Economics and Public Policy

Mike Berry

Offering a compelling critique of orthodox economic analysis in the public realm, Mike Berry exposes the lack of development in economic thinking in public policy since the economic crisis of 2008. Focusing on both the ethically unacceptable outcomes of recent public policy and the threat of populism and rising nationalism, this book offers noteworthy suggestions for an alternative social democratic future. Both students and practitioners of heterodox economics and public policy will find this a compelling insight into the ethical concerns and social impacts raised by the political ascendency of neoliberal policies in recent decades.
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Chapter 2: David Hume’s ‘judicious spectator’

Mike Berry

Extract

Chapter 2 traces the emergence of arguments in the eighteenth century that culminated in the rise of utilitarianism, the ethical foundation of a rationalistic economic science a century later. It does so by considering the work of the two giants of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume and Adam Smith. The importance of considering the thought of long-dead eighteenth-century moral philosophers is to recognize the complex interrelations between the passions and the interests that existed before modern economics collapsed the distinction into a reductionist theory of rational choice that rules out the explanatory and policy pay-off resulting from an approach that embraces the pluralistic structure of human nature.

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