Dinsdag quote

If the market is genuinely perceived as an open-ended nondetermined evolutionary process in which the essential driving force is human choice, any insinuation, however subtle of a ‘telos’ [goal] toward which this process can be predicted to move must be inherently misleading.

James Buchanan and Viktor Vanberg (1991). The Market as a Creative Process, Economics And Philosophy, 7, p 180

Zaterdag quote

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together … It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848). The Communist Manifesto, p 224 (ed. 2002, Penguin)

Zaterdag quote

Political economy is a mere skeleton unless it has a little human covering, and filling out, a little human bloom upon it, and a little human warmth in it.

Charles Dickens (1854). Household Words: A Weekly Journal, geciteerd in Sylvia Nasar (2011). Grand Pursuit. The Story of the People who made Modern Economics, p 10

Dinsdag quote

(W)hen an author asserts that “history proves” a point, the reader should simply read instead, “I propose to assume without evidence.”

Frank H. Knight (1924). The Limitations of Scientific Method in Economics, in The Ethics of Competition, p119

Zaterdag quote

“[T]he general direction of trade cannot be a science; for it is impossible. … We ought to be persuaded that, in order to attain to that knowledge which is requisite for the direction of commerce, it is not enough to know the different interests of different nations, provinces and societies; but we must also understand the interests and connections of individuals, together with the quality and value of each commodity. He therefore, who is mistaken in the least article, will direct amiss, and enact preposterous laws.
… [T]he instinct of the bee does more in this particular, than the genius of the greatest politician.”

Marquis d’Argenson (1751). The General Directing of Trade Cannot Be a Science (edited by Benoît Malbranque)

Zaterdag quote

The margin for the possible improvement of their lot is confined within narrow barriers which cannot be passed and the problem of their elevation is hopeless. As a body, they will not rise at all. A few, more energetic or more fortunate than the rest, will from time to time escape … but the great majority will remain substantially where they are. The remuneration of labor, as such, skilled or unskilled, can never rise much above its present level.

John Elliot Cairnes (1874). Some Leading Principles of Political Economy, p 291

Zaterdag quote

Hence they [the economists] can be called worldly philosophers, for they sought to embrace in a scheme of philosophy the most worldly of all of man’s activities – his drive for wealth. It is not, perhaps, the most elegant kind of philosophy, but there is no more intriguing or more important one. Who would think to look for Order and Design in a pauper family and a speculator breathlessly awaiting ruin, or seek Consistent Laws and Principles in a mob marching in a street and a greengrocer smiling at his customers? Yet it was the faith of the great economists that just such seemingly unrelated threads could be woven into a single tapestry, that at a sufficient distance the milling world could be seen as an orderly progression, and the tumult resolved into a chord.

Robert Heilbroner (2000). The Worldly Philosophers. The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers, p 16. (7th edition, originally published 1953)

Zaterdag quote

It always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question had not the interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind. Their interest is, in this respect, directly opposite to that of the great body of the people.

Adam Smith (1776). Wealth of Nations, Book IV, ch 3 (II)

Dinsdag quote

Moral intuitions don’t always track the causes of the injustice that triggers them. This doesn’t mean those intuitions must be wrong, only that they don’t focus our attention on the cause. This impairs our ability to propose plausible solutions.

Daniel Halliday & John Thrasher (2020). The Ethics of Capitalism. An introduction, p 131

Dinsdag quote

British belief in progress in the century before the Industrial Revolution was more pragmatic, more down-to-earth than on the Continent, but it reached somewhat deeper into society, beyond the crème de la crème of the intelligentsia, into the ranks of educated entrepreneurs, literate mechanics, trained engineers, and high-skill artisans, who actually made the Industrial Revolution.

Joel Mokyr (2017). A Culture of Growth. The Origins of the Modern Economy, p 264

Zaterdag quote

(T)his long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.

John Maynard Keynes (1923). Tract on Monetary Reform, p 80

Dinsdag quote

The view I am offering says that there is such a thing as moral progress, and that this progress is indeed in the direction of greater human solidarity. But that solidarity is not thought of as recognition of a core self, the human essence, in all human beings. Rather, it is thought of as the ability to see more and more traditional differences (of tribe, religion, race, customs, and the like) as unimportant when compared with similarities with respect to pain and humiliation – the ability to think of people wildly different from ourselves as included in the range of “us”. That is why I said … that detailed descriptions of particular varieties of pain and humiliation (in, e.g., novels or ethnographies), rather than philosophical or religious treatises, were the modern intellectual’s principal contribution to moral progress.

Richard Rorty (1989). Contingency, irony, and solidarity, p 192