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

Dinsdag quote

(T)he economist frequently finds himself in disagreement in regard to means with those with whom he is in agreement with regard to ends; and in agreement in regard to means with those whose views regarding ends are entirely antipathetic to him – men who have never felt the urge to reconstruct the world and who frequently support the forces of stability only for reasons of selfishness. In such a situation, it is perhaps inevitable that he should become the object of dislike and suspicion.

Friedrich von Hayek (1933). The Trend of Economic Thinking, p 136-137

Zaterdag quote

Thinking that the invisible hand of the market eliminates the need for ethical conduct in business is like thinking that the competitive structure of sport eliminates the need for good sportsmanship. The market is not a free-for-all, any more than a competitive team sport is. Making a profit is the goal of business in the same way that winning is the goal of competitive sport. But the point is not to achieve this goal by any means possible; it is to achieve it in a fair and honest way.

Joseph Heath (2007). An Adversarial Ethic for Business: or, When Sun-Tzu Met the Stakeholder, p 369

Dinsdag quote

The neighbourhood that is constructed by our relations with distant people is something that has pervasive relevance to the understanding of justice in general. … We are linked with each other through trade, commerce, literature, language, music, arts, entertainment, religion, medicine, health-care, politics, news reports, media communication and other ties. … No theory of justice can ignore the whole world except our own country.
There are few non-neighbours left in the world today.

Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (2009), p 172-173

Zaterdag quote

An identity of being ‘on the left’ has become a lazy way of feeling morally superior; an identity of being ‘on the right’ has become a lazy way of feeling ‘realistic’. … The morally meritocratic elite of the left vied with the productively meritocratic elite of the right. The superstars of the left became the very good; those of the right became the very rich.

Paul Collier (2018). The Future of Capitalism, p 22, 15

Dinsdag quote

When the Irish were illiterate and the Italians superstitious, a masterful state seemed to make sense.

Deirdre McCloskey (2019). Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All, p 14

Zaterdag quote

Look, for example, at V.S. Naipaul’s great novel of economic development, A House for Mr. Biswas. … (M)easured by the cultural distance between Mr. Biswas’s parents and his children, his life is a story of amazing progress. …
Biswas himself is no Horatio Alger figure. His talents are modest, and his willingness to ingratiate himself with those who might advance his career is nonexistent. He passes from one mediocre, limited job to another. But his unwillingness to accept the limits of each current situation as permanent, to make the best of it, turns out to be his strength. Through all his misfortunes and setbacks Mr. Biswas is able to maintain the sense of himself as a man with possibilities, with options, a man who is in a position to set limits what he will put up with. And equally important, he lives in a society that will let him survive with this attitude. An African slave with these attitudes, working the same sugar cane fields as Biswas’s father and brothers did, would have been beaten to death, or starved as an outcast … But in the Trinidad of the interwar and World War II periods, options were available.

Robert Lucas (2002). Lectures on Economic Growth, p 16