24th RLDG Discussion on Economics: Worldviews, Heterodox Economics, Exposure

Held on: 29 September 2023

Present: CM, XX, AB

Disclaimer: This is a transcript of a real-time discussion, and so wording and even content do NOT necessarily express properly the views of the participants. Moreover, sometimes the audio was unclear. The contributions of XX have been summarised. The material is being shared for the purposes of personal reflection, to progress the discussion on contemporary economics. You may NOT cite or otherwise use this material in any adverarial way.

The main purpose of these RLDG discussions is to develop our Rethink of Economics (Full or Summary).

This 24th discussion is part of the series of the RLDG discussions, which started at the 2020 Reith Lectures. It occurred after AB had presented a poster of our work, entitled "A Systems Approach to Economics: Ahat's Wrong with Economics? ...", at the 2023 Operational Research Annual Conference, as our first attempt to put our work into the public arena. The poster is available in pdf format with an explanation. This forms a context for the discussion.

Four main topics occupied this 24th RLDG discussion on economics:

Unfortunately, they are all rather mixed together, flowing from one to another. The contents list below indicates to which topic each section belongs.

--- List of Actions [zeo00]

# ACTION AB: Ask XX for examples of some sacred cows that we could try to address. Done 8 November 2023.
# ACTION AB: Contact Mark Roques re collaborating on worldviews in economics.
# ACTION AB: Contact the Rethinking Economics group to see if open to presentations or material.
# ACTION AB: Find out CORE course and see if we can contribute to their thinking.
# ACTION AB: To think about and plan contacting the people in the list in Appendix 2.

-- Contents

-- About This Page

[This is annotated notes of the 24th RLDG discussion.

AB typed notes during the discussion, then went through correcting spelling errors and sometimes filling them out into sentences, and inserting links, and notes and comments in square brackets (8 November 2023). This time there are no summaries at the end of each section, but instead there are indications of how various points have been incorporated into version 2 of the Rethink.

AB adopted two roles, (a) of editor, "Ed.", e.g. giving links to other material, adding "***" to important points attaching unique labels for future reference (actually only places for labels to be added later), or explaining things; and (b) of contributor ("AB:"), inserting responses to what had just been said, especially some that he would have made had be not been taking notes. AB's responses are added in order to further the discussion, especially in a way that could contribute to our Rethink. Sometimes he will criticise himself for what was said on the day!

"???" indicates unclear memory of what was said. "..." indicates missing content (spoken but not written into the notes). [] = content added by editor that was not in the discussion. ]

Contents

----- Discussion [zeo01]

[Ed. The start of the discussion between AB and CM was not recorded nor even noted.]

--- Others Who Think Like We Do, 1 (e) [zeo02]

# CM: POTSDAM CENTRE, Germany. planetary boundaries.
# 9 boundaries, 6 of which we have just exceeded.

[Ed. The 9 planetary boundaries are: climate change, biosphere integrity (functional and genetic), land system change, freshwater use, biogeochemcial flows (nitrogen and phosphorus), ocean acidification, pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion, release of novel chemicals. In only 3 (freshwater use, ocean acidification, ozone) are we not overshooting. "https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_boundaries" ]

# Worst boundary is not climate change but 'novel entities' like single-use plastics.
[H1N recording started]
# One of the ones, two are in the area of chemical and your biogeochemical cycles, which is phosphorus and particularly nitrogen cycle, which is to do with intensive agriculture, and the mining and fossil-fuel derived fertilizers that we keep using.
# AB: Where's this Potsdam Centre? # CM: Well the Potsdam Centre's in Potsdam! Germany. Berlin. It's attached to a research institute or university in Berlin.
# But the guy Rockström, who is one of the leading people there, is a Swedish guy. He started the work when he was based in Sweden. He had a professorship or research directorship or something at a Swedish research institute. I think it's called the Potsdam Climate Research Institute or something like that. [Ed. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.]
[Ed. Continues at below]

Contents

--- Introducing XX (a) [zeo03]

# AB: [Welcomed XX, who is a new participant]
[01.40 H1n]

# ===
# [XX explained how AB's poster is a good 'draw'. ]

--- Others Who Think Like We Do, 2 (e) [zeo04]

[Ed. Continued from above]

[Zoom online recording started]
# [Ed. XX mentioned PETER HESLAM who seems to be linked to both universities Oxford and Cambridge for a while, looking at the whole issue of business transformation, value and values and a number of other topics that may be of interest for what we are trying to do.] ***
[03.13 H1n]
[00.22 Zoom]

[Ed. Therefore difference between the recordings = 2m51s. ** From now on, timings will mainly been those on the Zoom recording, but add 02.51 onto those to get the H1n recording times. ]

# AB: Business values. Yeah.
# ===

# CM: Sorry to interrupt, but just to clarify which units within the universities? Are you talking about the Said Business School and Judge Management School, or other departments?
# ===

Contents

--- On Role of Faith in Economics (b) [zeo05]

# [Ed. XX summarised]
# XX: Peter Heslam worked closely with the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity? So faith-related, practitioner-oriented and academic.
# CM: The Said Business School obviously is funded by a Middle-Eastern business man in Oxford. === # CM: And similarly, the Judge Management School in Cambridge, which, in my day, was the Adenbrookes Hospital, and then they converted it, because Adenbrookes moved out of town to a fancy new site outside of the city. And they converted it into a management school.
# But both of those I would see as pretty embedded in what I would call the neo-liberal establishment. I mean,not exclusively, but generally, they are not coming with / So they would be aligned with people like, say, the World Economic Forum and Davos meetings and people like that, rather than people with heterodox opinions or with any strong faith basis.
# Whereas I know there are other groups in Oxford and in Cambridge that are definitely more faith-oriented even if they are not actually Christian explicitly.
[02.00]
# XX: === the Said Business School seems definitely aligned with faith, but Islam. # CM: OK, but that's because of the sponsorship. # XX: Oh yes. But they are not in any way apologetic about that; it's pretty upfront; at least it seemed that way about 8 years ago. For example, there was a lot of academic writing on the contribution of Islamic principles and views, worldview basically to things like business and economics. So, they are pretty much upfront. # CM: Oh that's ??interesting?? I wasn't aware of that. Yeah, because I don't know them very well, actually.
# XX: This is a good opening really, because (thinking critically!) it means that we would have to be consistent right through if we are looking at the facility of one faith, it would make sense that we look at the facility of different faiths. ***

[AB: In fact, we do that. In Chapter 3, we discuss the contribution of religious perspectives, not just of Christianity, but religious in general, then Abrahamic/Hebraic then Christian. ]

# === [03.10] [06.05 H1n]
# [Ed. XX mentioned a professor who had done good work on the value of Hebraic principles in contemporary life [Fiddes 2013].]

[AB: See also Ecclesiastes for Managers, Verkerk & Hoogland 2018] ]

# The Oxford Symposium examined aspects of Islamic faith, on things like lending money, some aspects of economic thinking. I did not actually see Sharia Law, but presumably it is in there.
# CM: Islamic banking is quite a thing.
# CM: The principle of not charging interest because it is contrary to / well, in the Islamic context, it is contrary to the Koran.
# And, obviously, in the Jewish context, and indeed in the Christian context up to about the Middle Ages, or the late Middle Ages or the early modern period in Western Christianity, it was also contrary to Christian teaching. So /
[04.15]

Contents

--- On Debts and Interest (b) [zeo06]

# XX: It's linked to the concept of Jubilee.
# CM: And the idea that interest should be really / Well, of course in the days of essentially stable money, because money was related to metallic backing like gold or silver, or related to / In some sense, it had a much more stable value than the paper or digital currency that we now have with government fiat.
# And so interest rates would be effectively zero.
# But the Islamic idea that I do understand, is that they say that you can therefore lend but it's not really a loan; it's a participation in the venture of the person who is taking the money from them. And then they repay out of their success, in some sense.

[AB: That seems similar to our view. Money is not a commodity but is a resource with which to do Good. The venture is presumed to generate some Good. And the participator receives back some more ability to do Good. ]

# But it's done in a way that is Sharia-compliant, and according to Islamic Banks. But it's not quite like share-holding.
# I mean, in a Christian context, we say "Well, you don't give a loan then. What you do is give shares." Or you take a bond, which could actually be worthless if the ??asset?? venture fails. Where you might have some other guaranteed level of return. But even then, if it's got an interest rate attached to it, I don't think that is actually SSharia-compliant.
[05.45]

Contents

--- CM's Background (a) [zeo07]

# CM: Well, I had a strange background, because originally I was a mechanical engineer, and structural, and whatever. I /
# In regards to climate and ecological change, I describe myself as a repentant sinner.
# I worked for three years, after graduating, in the iron and steel industry. Originally burning coke and then to make iron and then taking the carbon out and producing loads of CO2 at the end of the day. In the days when England still / or Britain still had a substantial steel industry.
# I moved out of that into more general engineering. But primarily oriented to offshore oil and gas. So, same sort of thing! Fossil fuels from the North Sea, and structural integrity of / I mean it was "all to do with safety, making things safe."

# Then I moved into something slightly less evil - in the sense that it was about vibrations and acoustics and noise. Making things like cars quieter.
# But again it was mainly oriented to helping the companies, the car companies, aerospace people, or whatever, actually sell more products.

[AB: Id this an example of not-Good but Harmful economic activity? Harm indirect as climate change etc. And also dysfunctional in that it is a selfish aim. ]

# It was not about the environment other than about passing the government rules that you had to not be too noisy, otherwise they would not let you sell the car.
# So, that was my kind-of background.

# CM: But then I moved into more general marketing and business development and strategy. but oriented to East Asia, initially to China and then /
# But more recently so actually starting ??pretty tan?? Effectively I have retired from work at that point, due to my personal family situation. I didn't need to work to actually pay bills.
[07.45]

# CM: I then was caught by the idea that was promoted at a conference lecture that I went to, at a Christian conference in 2008, actually, which told me that people could go and live and do work, professional work in ===. And so I've actually been working as a volunteer, teaching business and management with a bit of focus on the economics side as well. At a university in ===. It's a charity-funded university, funded by foreign charity.
# It's a sort of === bridge-building project, basically.
# But of course, with the Corona Pandemic, they closed their border to all personal movement in the beginning of 2020. Fortunately, I was out of the country. I was back home for the Christmas break (we have a couple of months' Christmas break in mid-winter). I was back home Spring 2020 was planning to go back, and suddenly I couldn't. So I've been stuck in the UK since. We may get back next spring, but in the mean time we have been doing remote teaching with a certain amount of Internet tutorials and mainly sending recorded lectures and things like that.
# CM: My slightly jokey comment sometimes is that "Well I am teaching capitalism to the communists!"
# CM: But they are not really they are not proper communists. Their system is / they call it a socialist system. It's State-run and planned but it has all sorts of oddities about it - which I could spend a long time telling you about!
# And, also, I am not really a capitalist, of course. I am actually a bit of an anti capitalist! Or a De-growth promoter and things like that. To some extent, that's the kind of stuff I have been getting into over the last five years or so.
[10.00]

Contents

--- XX's Background (a) [zeo08]

[Ed. Background redacted. But important several topics that were mentioned perhaps as asides, and which could be useful in our discussions include international development, food waste, principle of business stewardship, and environmental awareness in organisations. ]

[AB: Could be useful in our discussion of measuring value and also of 'Useless' economic activity. ]

[12.50]

Contents

--- Responsible Food Consumption? (a) (b) [zeo09]

# AB: So, this is very interesting.
# AB: Because, tomorrow there is a Sustainability Discussion (that I will not be able to be on, but/). Someone is in the Netherlands; someone is going to present their PhD [proposal]. JG. He is going to present his PhD proposal on philosophical understanding of agro-ecology versus eco-modernism in farming. And my comment was "There is actually a third option, a third approach, which is: Eat Less Food, or Eat Food Differently." And I cited the 30% [food] waste that we have in the UK, and things like that. And I was trying to argue that this is a coming thing. And it is different from the other two, which presupposes current levels of consumption and just how to fulfil them. ***
# XX: I love the fact that you refer to a third way [between left and right] , because I think that that in itself is a concept that we could develop.
# ... if we ate what we are supposed to be eating in the first place. And that the quantities that were needed as opposed to what only felt good. ***
# So I think you are onto something there for sure. ***
# Anything in excess is sure to bring problems.

[AB: This aligns with our discussion of Non-essentials etc. ]

# ===

# XX: We are talking about constraint. Which is not necessarily a word that we like to identify with. ... You are onto something very definitely.
[15.40]

# === [16.10] [H1n 19.05]

Contents

--- About The RLDG (a) [zeo10]

# [Ed. XX asked what the RLDG is, who we are, as a network, and where we are going and hoping to achieve.]

# AB: We started in December 2020.
# CM: Yes, I think I met you at some Green Christian event, or something, which was through the church you were involved. You were over in Manchester area, aren't you. And I was into an online session. # AB: Well, just south of Liverpool actually.

# AB: We heard Mark Carney's Reith Lectures on Values in economics, and I thought they were very good, so I invited a group of us, Reformational Christians, to take part in this, and discuss these four Reith Lectures. And I expected it to be for half a dozen discussions. But - this is the 24th of the discussions, and out of it has come a Rethink.
# A year and a half ago, we kindof put up a rethink on the web page, which was just called a Christian Rethink.
# And realised, from discussion, that there was a lot missing. It was a bit weak. It had some good ideas.
# And so, for the past 18 months we have been discussing / [Then follows a discussion of how many discussions we have had this year; omitted from here.]
# But we used to have it once a month then once every two months. So I hope we might get another one in this year, so four a year. Anyway, that's mechanisms [rather than content].
# Um, we found that our Christian perspective - not a Scholastic Christian perspective, not a sacred-secular divide Christian perspective, but the deep idea that we / that our Christian faith could actually make a contribution in economics.
# And a Dooyeweerdian perspective / I don't know how much you know about Dooyeweerd, but there is varying levels of knowledge.
# [AB switched camera back on; it had been off because of poor signal zoom channel capacity.]
# And we found that it was producing stuff / it was allowing us to discuss stuff that is not normally discussed.
[20.15]

Contents

--- On Heterodox Economics (c) [zeo11]

# AB: And it had a kindof very heterodox idea - well, even beyond the idea of the normal heterodox.
# Thank you for the paper on Heterodox [sent previously by XX]. I have looked at the Wikipedia page and was disappointed at the narrowness of Heterodox.
# And I've still got to read yours. I came across the word from CM. So, CM, I'll send the paper by a guy called Lawson, do you know him? # XX: Tony Lawson. # CM: Tony Lawson, yeah. # AB: OK, so I don't need to / # CM: He's at Cambridge these days, I think.
# AB: But anyway, a lot of us are environmental and realise that economics, the way economics is done and is theorized, is a major driver to environmental overconsumption. But there are also other problems, like obesity and mental stress and all these sort of things.

[AB: And I had in mind to say also that Heterodox Economics is only a Johnny-come-lately on ecological economics, and has no real philosophical basis for tackling it apart from being 'against Orthodox'. ]

Contents

--- Value of Our Rethink (d) [zeo12]

# AB: And different recent discussions, yknow, the will think of one or the other, and so on, but there is no integrated view.
# And a Christian view and Dooyeweerdian view can actually provide a basis for integration.
# So, we realised that we had something important. And we have just been trying to put it together.
# And now, my feeling is that it is ready for publication.
# Which is why the poster was at OR-65 [conference] even though it is not yet finalised.
[22.00] [H1n 24.49]

Contents

--- What XX Liked about the Rethink (d) [zeo13]

[Ed. XX had perused the website and found many things liked. These include]:

[AB: This list is very useful because it is from someone who was new to our approach, and thus indicates how things come across - as well of course as being geared to that person's interests and concerns. ]

[AB: Just added humility explicitly into Chapter 4. ]

# XX: I would want to see some sort of practical outcome beyond just academic publication. *** # For example, that it could provide a toolkit for teaching itself. ***
# That it could provide a series of seminars and workshops that amplify the impact beyond the publication.

[AB: Excellent point. I believe, and hope we have shown, how Dooyeweerd's aspects especially make it a practical tool in the practice of economics. This needs to be explicitly developed. For example, every now and then we way "Research project here" but we could also say "Practical outcome here". ]

[23.00]

Contents

-- Our Holistic Approach to Economics (d) [zeo15]

# [Ed. XX pointed out the following:

[26.00]

# So, I think that you have laid an excellent foundation for that [transcendence].

Contents

--- Need a Plan for Teaching Economics (e) [zeo16]

# XX: My concern would be: [Ed. the following summarises] # Have a plan that goes into the pedagogical approach as to how people teach economics. Not just the topic itself. ***
# Outputs that give airing to the other people like yourselves that are writing good books, writing good material, but which is kept out of the so-called 'mainline' journals.

[AB: We do have a philosophical framework for understanding its relevance - maybe even to fit into mainstream journals? ] ***

# And we are short changing students because it means that in our teaching we are giving students exposure only to [conventional, accepted ideas] - this is not HE prep for true critical thinking. # There are some sacred cows that could be addressed by a piece of work like this.

[AB: It would be helpful to have some examples of such sacred cows. ]

# ACTION AB: Ask XX for examples of some sacred cows that we could try to address. Done 8 November 2023.
[27.15] [H1n 30.05]

Contents

--- Expose Basic Assumptions (b) (d) [zeo17]

# XX: I would see the assumtpions (at the radix) behind economics itself as questionable.
[Ed. The following summarises] # Especially its narrow materialistic vision. # Which blinds economics to other issues, such as e.g. the Happiness Index. [Ed. See above note re. "matter".]
# 25 years ago such issues would have been considered "fluffy". Yet some society put more emphasis on things like that.

# So you are all definitely onto something.

Contents

--- The Time is Right (d) (e) [zeo18]

[Ed. the following summarises]
# XX: Look at an agile way of accomplishing what you think are the most strategic outputs.
# Have a publication, with some kind of toolkit.
# You might be able to put together a discussion at university level, where we start independent discussion (for critical thinking) about these things.

# The time is right for this. *** # The mere fact that Mark Carney would have even referred to some of these ideas tells you that there is now space to have these discussions.

# Our thinking is in a good starting point to challenge universities about how these subjects are being taught.
[AB: Similarly with what they research. ]
[26.25]
# People would have to openly come and knock it down. That would reveal their (unspoken) biases.

Contents

--- Outwith Academia Too (e) [zeo19]

# XX: The RLDG material (to date) is very dense but rich.
#f That is why I think it would be good to have a toolkit and something that is friendly to the non-academic mind. ***
# You must be in a position where you can interpret compact ideas, in ways that people who are interested and and can run with the vision can also come on board as friends.

[Ed. That is why N.O. kindly wrote a short business-friendly introduction to the original rethink. It is hoped he will repeat it for this one. ]
[30.30]

Contents

--- Reaching Younger Minds (e) [zeo20]

[Ed. Again, a summary]
# XX: There is a student aspect of this. There are emerging persons who have questions. # Asking "Is this really all there is to it?"
# RLDG might be laying a platform to encourage those persons to pursue research themselves (e.g. PhD). Get such people in from the very beginning.
# This gives a young people's perspective, to what you are trying to do. Any strategy that is going to live on has got to include younger people. ***

# We don't want to waste resources.

# A huge tick of approval for your bravery.

# AB: Thank you very much. # CM: That is very interesting. Thank you, yeah.
# XX indicated willingness to help us on this?
[32.40]

[Ed. Continued below. ]

Contents

--- On the Deadening Effect of Academic Politics (c) (e) [zeo21]

# CM: You are saying we are all very esteemed people. But I would not say that for myself. I am a bit of a nobody and a maverick. A fly in the ointment. [AB: I would have said similar for myself.]

# But the thing that a lot of us have, I think, AB, if I am right in saying this, is that we are not at risk of losing academic position [laughter] # AB: Yeah! # CM: by saying something unorthodox. ***

[AB: Good point. True for some of us, but not all. Let us capitalize on this, though. ]

# CM: Unfortunately, a lot of people in the mid-range - or the ones who are, in American terminology Assistant Professor or in British terminology Senior Lecturer, or even Junior Professor, in the sense that they have become a professor but they are quite early, and they have not yet got a lot of funding, or they have not got their unit or their research team built around them, and so on. But they are still very much establishing a reputation.
# Those people, unfortunately, because in most universities that I am aware of in the UK, the economics departments have been captured by this narrower material thinking that you referred to.
[H1n 36.55]

[AB: It seems also true of middle-management in business and other organisations. My experience is that it is the very top people (and some of the bottom people) who are free to think radically. I think that Mark Carney is one of those. But not the middle people, who are more intent on establishing and boosting their companies, their careers and esteem etc. ]

Contents

--- The State of Heterodox Economics in the UK (c) [zeo22]

# CM: And particularly and essentially by neo-liberal views.
# And most of the heterodox people, in whatever sense of that word, have been in some senses kicked out. Or they never got in, because actually the appointments board don't want people like that. And now it's occupied by neo-liberals.

# And so the heterodox folks have to be in the Department of Geography, so they are a human or social geographer. Or they are in Social Science looking at Feminism and Feminist Economics. Or something like that.
# I mean, these are not necessarily - usually not - faith people. Some are, but rarely, perhaps. But there are only a few centres in the UK which are open to these heterodox ideas.
# And usually, even then - coming back to the idea of heterodox means - and your dissatisfaction with the ??media??, AB [AB: Maybe CM is referring to some critical comments I sent for discussion on heterodox economics.] /
# Yknow, you go somewhere like [University of] Greenwich. There is a unit there which is very involved in Post-Keynsian economic thought and to some extent Marxism - I think they have some researchers and post-docs who are essentially Marxists or Neo-Marxists of some sort.
# But that is all they are doing, really. So they are primarily oriented towards the Labour Party and, well, traditional Labour Party / genuine Socialism from the old-fashioned Labour Party point of view. [A bit redacted].
# CM: Well, that's the opinion that I have. [zoom muddle]

[AB: It seems that Heterodox Economics is largely left-wing, though some thinkers suggest otherwise, because neo-Austrian school is included. We discuss Heterodox Economics somewhere and argue that we are not fully embraced by it, for at least two reasons. 1. We take climate and environmental responsibility as a central responsibility rather than an additional reason for being against Orthodox Economics. 2. We allow that Orthodox economics offers some genuine insights that we need to take seriously. ]

[35.40]

# CM: And there are other departments that often Post-Keynsians rather than broad Heterodox people. And certainly not /
# Apart from people like in Cambridge. You referred to Tony Lawson.
# I have not studied much of that. But that is the Cambridge Social Ontology Group I think that he is involved with. They have occasional meetings both online and in the room and publish various things on that.
# But again, that is coming from a more philosophical point of view. So they do actually address these kindof ontological questions, of the nature of reality. ***

[Ed. After this discussion the three of us obtained the book Ontology and Economics to study Tony Lawson's ideas and relate them to ours. ]

# Most of these other folks, even the ones who have the label "Heterodox" do not really, because they are still in the Keynsian or Post-Keynesian mindset of, essentially, material reality, and not thinking about transcendence.

[Ed. Transcendence here refers to the idea that their is a social and economic reality that transcends human will and interpretation. Such as Dooyeweerd's aspects as spheres of meaningfulness and law, which transcends actual existences and behaviours. But also, from a religious perspective, that God transcends all Creation, including even the aspects. ]

[36.40]

# CM: It is very interesting that you used that word, actually. That ["transcendence"] may be a more acceptable word in the general than, say, 'faith-based'. Because then we say, "Oh faitth-based; we're going to talk about Christian church people and the way that they work, or we are going to talk about Islam and the way Islamic teaching and Sharia and so on." You get in a box then and people label you and stereotype you when you say "faith-based". # AB: Yeah. # CM: It's a convenient term in a lot of cases, but in other cases perhaps not. ***

# The idea of introducing transcendence: So, understanding the nature of human reality (which is of course what Dooyeweerd's framework with the aspects is intended to do, as I understand it) and then seeing that an element of that goes beyond the mere physical, beyond the biological, beyond the social, to something that is actually transcencent.
# That's at least an interesting thought.
# XX: [Ed. summarised] You have made a very good point there about colleagues pre-judging. And also genuine ignorance.

Contents

--- Strategy: Talk to Sixth-Formers (e) [zeo23]

[Ed. See also above.]

[Ed. Summary follows]
# XX: One of the reasons you are finding this so difficult seems to be that British education right up to high school has excluded teaching the concept of worldview as an approach to life and living. Students only hear about worldviews when they hit university level.
# When education omits worldview and ontology, it automatically wipes out an important basis for values (and valuing) off the table - it does not explain the 'Why?'.

# Recommend RLDG strategy should include talking to sixth-formers. To give them the message, "You do have a worldview. Everybody has one ..." ***
# As a service to the community, we could engage with a few schools and show them the added value of helping young people to think critically.
[40.30]

Contents

--- On Worldviews (b) [zeo24]

# AB: Can I just interrupt there, because last night, Thinking Faith Network, which used to be the Ewst Yorkshire School of Christian Studies, put on a thing called Iron Sharpens Iron, and there is a guy there called Mark Roques, who has been taking workdviews into schools. Yknow, sixth-forms and so on.
# CM: Mm. # XX: That is brilliant.
# AB: If you look at / there is two things, Lifematters (all one word) and RealityBites. And he has got little videos and so on, fairly / nicely-produced videos, on worldviews.

# AB: And he goes and talks worldviews and so on.
# And especially how the Biblical worldview answers a lot of our questions.

# XX: [Linking with this] might open up some side doors and mutual collaboration. ***
# You don't want to have to duplicate the wheel.
# ACTION AB: Contact Mark Roques re collaborating on worldviews in economics.

# AB: Yeah, there is stuff going on.

# So can I ask, you have mentioned worldviews. Can you say a little more about what you liked about what we are saying about worldviews.

# AB: We don't actually use the term "worldview" a great deal [in the text of our rethink - but we could]. It's more like things like "mindset" and "attitudes". Is that what you are meaning? Or are you meaning the Christian side, or what?
# XX: I think I am more generic at this stage. ... it provides a base where you can talk about different worldviews. I would never speak about just the Christian worldview. I think in fact that you acknowledge worldview in the first place is huge. Because you are providing a platform to actually help people to bring whatever they want to bring to the table.
# And then you are giving students ... the basis on which they could compare and contrast and ask intelligent questions, and research things for themselves.
[43.30]

[Ed. following summarised, picking up CM's point about university staff being "muted". ]
# XX: Though it seems that university staff are muted ... students are less muted.
# The universities supposedly have a social mandate for education (which should include students understanding the limits of what they are learning).

# As part of RLDG strategy, work with young people, giving them an appetite for hearing more.

Contents

--- Systems Thinking and Transcendence (b) [zeo25]

# XX: We all started off talking about systems Thinking. And systems thinking is a brilliant framework from which to teach. # And to acknowledge transcendence because Systems Thinking presupposes there is a lot out there beyond our current knowledge.

# CM: It says, doesn't it, that the idea of transcendence says that, actually, although, in one sense, physically, - and this is a strong emphasis on the whole economic-ecological breakdown question - in one sense we are living in a closed system, but actually transcendentally we are not. Because it / [zoom mumble] / that is a tautology, isn't it. We are not in a closed system because it is transcendental; that is by-definition axiom, isn't it. There is transcendental reality.
[45.55]

Contents

--- Education Captured by Certain Worldviews e.g. Postmodernism (b) [zeo26]

# And you are really "on the money" (I use a finance market expression) you are "on the money" XX to say that education has been captured. Captured by a postmodern worldview. This is not acknowledged; there is a smokescreen that says "Oh no, it is inclusive" and all these other bla-bla-bla things that you are supposed to do.
# And some of those are right, because people have been excluded in a social and/or gender, whatever - those different issues; we won't rehearse that, but know what I mean.
# But on the other hand, the postmodern worldview that says "The only ontology is that what is is is, what I see, what I experience is, and there is nothing more. And there is no actual transcendence. There may be a personal, psychological, spiritual sense of transcendence but its only actually in me. # AB: Mmm.

[AB: How do we deal with postmodernist views? LACE: First, "Listen": Recognise what each of the key people in postmodernism (Derrida, Gadamer, Foucault, etc.) was trying to argue against, what specific problems each saw in modernism. Then Affirm: Which of these can we agree with as a valid insight? e.g. the emphasis on linguistics and meaning we can affirm strongly, in that we believe that all Creation is meaningful. e.g. the idea that the previously-assumed neutral, detached observer/thinker is actually involved in and with all. e.g. the emphasis by Foucault on power relations as a genuine reality; to us, this is people's functioning in the formative and ethical aspects and others. Then Critique them, exposing their presuppositions etc. Then enrich with Dooyeweerd's aspects.
]

# CM: The religious teaching in schools focuses just on religious groups and practices and cultures and history, and festivals. Yknow, my children way back (they are in their 30s now) my two girls, when they were in primary school, they did religious education, but it was "Oh well, what does it the Jews do at Hanneke, rather than us doing just Christmas, and what is Ede about for Muslims or something like that, what is Diwali?" Groups of those thoughts, and they are practising their own religions. it is just about practices, and it is not about real reality and, as you say, worldviews.
[47.30] [H1n 50.23]

Contents

--- Groups We Could Approach (e) [zeo27]

# CM> Just to come back on a couple of points, I think AB. I think I may have mentioned already: student groups (and actually not student groups: academics) in economics specifically. There is the student group, which is an economic student group that is pushing back against this whole situation, of capture of their department. Which is the 'Rethinking Economics' group. ***
# AB: Oh, I have read about that. # CM: Yeah yeah. Now that / They might be open to actually receiving material. Or presentations, whether online or in the room, or whatever. That might be worth following up.
# ACTION AB: Contact the Rethinking Economics group to see if open to presentations or material.

# CM: And the other one, that is related to that is the (it is a little bit of a closed set) is the CORE Economics teaching material, which is coming out of UCL. ***
# And various other places. I has even been translated.
# It is actually an economics course covering micro and macro. But they actually rightly do not make that stupid false distinction between the two.
# They say that all economics is about human action and agents who may or may not have agency and power in relations and so on. And then how does that create markets that generally fail; they do not actually reach perfect equilibrium, because you do not have generally proper competition, and so on.
# So they push right back against the whole fake economics teaching where textbooks chapter 2, after a bit of introduction you have got a nice X-curve of supply and demand, and you explain how it reaches equilibrium. Well, it is never like that in real life!
# So, those people actually are led by actual academics - people who are professors and lecturers and so on, in (I think it is) UCL and UWE down in Bristol. I think there are some people, and some others.
# ACTION AB: Find out CORE course and see if we can contribute to their thinking.

[AB: Done: written a bit of critique of CORE. ]

# CM: The Rethinking Economics started in Manchester; I have not followed much of what they do more recently. But they started in Manchester.

# And there is a group also in Manchester who publish quite broad heterodox stuff. The Manchester Collective, I think they call themselves. They publish through one of the alternative publishing houses like Polity Press or one of those. And very focused on social issues, and inequality, and things of that sort.
[50.10]

# CM: The other thing, I think you know, AB. You know Chris Watkin, who is in Australia but he is British.
# His Biblical Critical Thinking book. Which is a devastating critique of postmodernism, actually, from a Biblical / [AB showed the cover of the book] Yeah, exactly / Biblical point of view.
# He was at Cambridge a while ago, I went down there actually, went to the day seminar that was organised with him by the Forming a Christian Mind group at Cambridge. Which again is trying to support students to study Christianly within whatever their discipline is. I think that is basically their strapline.
# So, again: They [FCM] might be an entry point in terms of some more presentations. ***
# When I took my copy of that book and presented it to Chris and I said, "Oh by the way, do you know AB?" "Oh, yeah, I know all about AB and Dooyeweerd, a great man." He said he knew all about you and was very keen on your Dooyeweerd stuff. There is not very much in the book of course. Dooyeweerd's name is in there but he does not focus on it.
# AB: I actually wrote to him, because I used to be involved in Critical Theory itself. And I wrote a couple of papers, one was "The Critical Theory of Herman Dooyeweerd ?" and there was something else about making / "Practically Critical: Making Critical Theory Practical" using Dooyeweerd. Because there is a feeling that Critical Theory is not very practical.
# And I wrote to him and he was supportive but seemed perhaps not as interested as I had hoped in taking any of this up. [Ed. rephrased]
[52.25]

Contents

--- Why Students and Young People? (e) [zeo28]

# AB: I've got a question. You both suggested that we go for A-level students or maturish [AB: meant mature teenage] students. My question is /
# CM: Sorry, AB, I think that is a great idea, but it is not something I am highly motivated about. In the sense that I focus really on university and / the younger the children are, the less keen I am. [Laughter] Yknow what i mean?
# CM: I do think XX is onto something because actually "Get'em early" (Like the Catholics: Get'em at seven years old and they will always be a Catholic).

# XX: I guess what I am saying is that the student is important to begin with. ***

[Ed. following is summarized.]
# XX: Do not duplicate what others are doing well, e.g. Mark Roques.

# We could host a forum, small conference or gathering, to which we invite key strategic people. Let each see what others are doing. ***
# Do a system map or rich picture. That would be a useful output.
# That shares information, would create expectancy and might foster collaboration. It would open 'side doors'.
# Invite people we think might be interested - e.g. some of the key partners that CM mentioned just now.
# How do we put over our Christian perspective, in ways that do not put others off?
# It should be very 'doable'.

[H1n 56.45]

# XX: Aiming for students, as mentioned above, is not a 'to do' but refers to strategy: with whom would it be most effective to engage?

[AB: But, we need to discuss: Is it too slow to aim for students? We have a climate emergency etc., and need changes in the economic system now, not in 30 years time when the students we influence have all gained senior enough positions to change government policy. ]

Contents

--- Non-Western Worldviews (b) [zeo29]

# XX: Regarding worldviews, those who value inclusivity would have to admit that the neo-liberal viewpoint is not endorsed by a huge part of the Earth and the people living on it. In the case of British society, this would include immigrants, migrants, refugees, etc. from other ethnicities and worldviews. And many students from all over the world that are studying here.
# People who are not traditionally white British are bringing something of value to the table.
# That already endorses the points that you are making.

# For example, most people in the world would agree to the notion of transcendence. They would (humbly) admit that there is much that we do not know. That theories get updated every 20 years or so is inherent proof that we are still in 'learning mode'.
# Many from all over the Earth already have worldviews that validate essentially what RLDG is trying to say. ***

[AB: Very interesting. I found that most of my students liked Dooyeweerd's setting the faith aspect alongside all the others; they were Hindu and Muslim. ]

# AB: To summarise, I think you have said two things through this time, very useful:

# And maybe the two things go together, somehow.
[59.40]

Contents

--- With Whom To Work (e) [zeo30]

# AB: But can you / I don't network. I have mild autism, so I am very poor at networking.
# So, can you please, the two of you, suggest some people that we might approach.
# XX: Well I think you already have this.

[Ed. Yes: CM already mentioned at least three groups earlier and XX some more. And AB mentioned Mark Roques. ]

# If RLDG has no capacity for something, look for people who have those capacities and resources, and to link with them.

[AB: What XX is saying sounds like the idea of 'friends' in Shaping Disciplines for Christ. ]

# AB: Yeah, but who?

[Ed. Most of what follows repeats above and below. The list of some possible participants is at the end. ]

# [Ed. XX put it well: we want to make the meeting so attractive, that people will think, "I do not want to miss this; I want to be there."
# And then from that you are going to decide "Where do we actually begin? Which grouping should we start with?"]
*** # XX:

[AB: In order to interest groups and people, we need to make this meaningful to them. For them to see that it is worthwhile their being there. Everyone knows there is something wrong with economics, and most already have their own answer to "What is wrong with economics?" So, if we make that the title of the event, we need to offer a reason to be there. One is to explain their answer to others, and why their answer is important. Often their answer emerged out of reaction over specific problems, and often makes presuppositions, and often omits various issues. So would it be useful to be an exercise in which all see themselves as within a bigger picture along with the others. To map out their areas of interest and their presuppositions and what they omit. ] ***

[1.02.40]

# CM: To some extent, I feel we have a little bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. And we need to tread a little bit cautiously in order not to have something that takes quite a bit of effort, and happens, that then does not go anywhere afterwards. ***
# In one sense, if we had a one-day symposium of some sort that we were actually organising, and then the question is "Who is in there? Whom could we get?". e.g. Is Chris Watkin coming back to visit his family in the UK, and can we coordinate that with him and could he spare at least half of the day on a certain day, and so on? That is one issue.

# But then, after that, what would happen to people who then get interested and excited? They would go away with the material that they received, what they heard and learned from that day. Or would they have a "toolkit": Would there be some actual resources beyond a few papers, that give them the framework and the ideas that they could actually then use in some way? ***
# If there is, that would be wonderful. It would almost be like a book launch or a launch of a teaching package of some sort.

# On the other hand, what would be actually good to have in such a package? Perhaps we need to have more contact. That is why I said "chicken-and-egg": we need to have contact with these people who would actually be potential users. And do our own marketing as it were in terms of what they are going to make of it. ***
# And there we start to get into potentially very disparate groups. ***

[AB: That could be useful, because it would then have a diversity of views of what is meaningful, which goes with our multi-aspectual approach. ]

# For example, there is a group, like the Rethinking Economics people. Which is essentially a student-driven group, I think still. # AB: Yes it is. # CM: I don't quite know how they run, in the sense that the student populationn keeps turning over. But maybe some of them are quite long-term students if they are doing research degrees and things beyond just undergrads.
# CM: The Forming a Christian Mind is ??? group of academics, generally quite philosophical, very much centred on conservative or reformed faith I think, Christian faith, in Cambridge. They are all pretty much in that tradition. Hence their connection with Chris Watkin. And so that is the kindof Cambridge evangelical tradition, really (using the word "evangelical" loosely). So they are quite divergent in terms of who they are both age, status and faith basis and so on.
# And similarly, there is the Christian Academics Network. I don't know whereabout, AB, that is a rather loose; I get their information and I have been to one or two events from them, but not much.
# AB: Yep, well, I am involved in C-A-N- so.
# CM: That is more about networking to support Christians who are in academic and university teaching /
# AB: It is, but it also has this stream of trying to work out How to bring Christian thinking into our faith [AB: No; wrong word ...] / into our disciplines. "Shaping our Disciplines for Christ"

# CM: Into disciplines, which are essentially framed in a secular, a secular environment and indeed a secular worldview often by the leaders of departments. And so on.
[1.06.45]

# AB: We had a very interesting thing. We set up for one [helping academics], then we went over to the other [relevance of faith to disciplines]. Shaping Disciplines for Christ, it was called. Had a few seminars on that. And then we took / we worked with Mark Surey, as a visiting [rep] / going round people in universities, especially early career academics to help.
# CM: It was essentially a pastoral role, wasn't it. # AB: A kind of pastoral role. But he soon discovered that one of the things that caused a lot of stress among Christian academics was that they did not know how to relate their faith to their discipline.
# It was in two compartments of their mind, and they did not see the relevance of their faith to their discipline or their discipline to their faith. And so our Shaping Disciplines for Christ, as we called it, he became a great supporter of that. And hopefully by Christmas there will be a video of Shaping Disciplines for Christ. # CM: Oh, good, right. # AB: Involving Yours truly.
# CM: That would in interesting, especially if that is available free to download and share with a few other people. # AB: Yeah. # CM: Some of my colleagues working over in === actually, some of them might well be interested in that.

# CM: The other group that comes to my mind, I mentioned the CORE people in terms of the actual economics teaching material. That is a package of educative textbook, essentially, though they have made it kind of online now.
# (Which rather annoyed me because I actually used some of that with some students in ===. Which was interesting. Then the === weirdly decided they did not like it, though there were other issues around that in terms of some of the students not being able to their heads round softof conceptual thinking. They wanted just some equations and some graphs. So that was enough economics for them, thank you, so they complained. But, anyway, that is history.)
# But I am not sure how open they [CORE] would be, because that is the sort of group that is working on preparing their own materials really. And obviously they are not ??? They are a secular group, just a professional group, albeit heterodox.
[1.09.10]

# CM: The other broader group is the Association of Heterodox Economics, which is the UK network for people in that area. ***
# Now, that is an interesting one, because I think they have an annual meeting, annual conference. So it might be something, again, like you going to the OR people, AB, that somebody could go / I am setting myself up here to take the punches, aren't I! [laughter] I might be out of the country if I get the opportunity to go back to Asia.
# But somebody could go to that and present, as a / they could submit it as a / to a call for papers. And they would just present in the conference stream as a paper, a condensed and summarised version of this viewpoint. And then it could be a stimulus for discussion. ***
# It is usually a relatively small gathering. I went to it once in Manchester, in pre-covid days. And actually I gave a lecture there. I talked about using the CORE materials, in this context in ===. Which interested some people.

# But it is a very heterodox group. So you will get people there who are as I say like social scientists who are coming and talking about their research in feminist economics and unpaid work. And how they / genuine research on getting data and all that sort of thing. And how to measure it, and whatever it is they are looking at.
# And then next day there will be somebody standing up and talking about his view of Marx's theory of value - and the guy will be a died-in-the-wool Marxist, who knows the three volumes of The Capital off by heart, practically. And he's probably devoutedly atheist. And will say "Oh, these Christians standing up and giving a lecture for me!" And to find the reasoning to totally undermine what we are saying. But yknow, that is life, isn't it in the secular world!
# But actually, they are pretty open - because they are heterodox. They have to tolerate alternative views. [laughter]
# CM: If you go to a regular economics or finance or business conference and they are all neo-liberals who are devoted to the World Economic Forum and the to perpetual economic growth and all kinds of unsustainable stuff, and they really do not want to listen to any of this stuff. Or "All you are wierdos!" Or you have got to be celebrity like Greta Thunberg. They will tolerate you because you have become a celebrity.

[AB: That sounds to me a reasonably good example of a Christian engaging from a Christian perspective in a secular field among secular people. Well done! ]

[1.11.55]

# ACTION AB: To think about and plan contacting the people in the list in Appendix 2.

Contents

--- Strategy: Awareness Building (e) [zeo31]

# XX: Sorry to interrupt, but I have to go.
# AB: Yeah I was thinking: We are an hour and a half in and it felt like ten minutes!

# XX: I think that CM has said some really important things that should be considered in thinking the What Next.
# I think you are on a slow burn. And I think that at this stage, you would need to be very strategic as to the What Next. What does everyone involved we get out of it? ***
# It may well be that your output is awareness building.

[AB: So, whereas at first we were thinking of a conference with the theme 'What is wrong in economics?', this might be more general, at which all people can become aware of each other. We could, for example, bring Dooyeweerd's aspects in to help all see the bigger picture. ]

# The doing aspect of it is important. As well as the knowing aspect. # Doing work that are not mainstream, but the question for me would be, "Are they linked?" Because then you are moving to a critical mass. ***
[1.15.05]

[AB: To think about: But how does that fit with putting on something they want to come to and do not want to miss? ]

Contents

--- Suggested Talk (e) [zeo32]

# CM: I could envisage a talk, potentially of variable length. I mean, it will need to be adaptable to the organiser's requirements, thirty minutes maximum, then we must have plenty of q+a.
# Or a shorter one even, yknow, 15 minutes plus five minutes q+a - sortof conference ??? squeezed. We have to really pack it in.
# Or something a little bit longer if it is more like an invited lecture, where you have an hour plus, total, and I mean for the meeting, an hour, hour-and-a-half even.

[Ed. This reminds me of the Maarssen working conferences of the CPTS, Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social Systems, which gave an hour and a half for each presentation with in-depth discussion of papers using Dooyeweerd and systems thinking. ]

# But the final slide of such a presentation would be / (a little bit like an academic presentation) would be Further Work; Possible Further Work. And actually that would be the bait for people in the audience to respond to /
# Because the idea of further work would be

# And so different people might then say "Yeah, this is really interesting; I think I am going to refer to this framework; I am going to start reading a bit of Dooyeweerd." If they have got the attitude to get their mind round mid-twentieth-century philosophical writing that is even translated from Dutch. In some cases.

# Or they might say "Well, this is a bit above my level in terms of some of the philosophy but actually I do understand what you are saying about worldviews. And so actually I want to try to incorporate this."
# Or they might come to you afterwards and say, "This is all from your proselytising and I don't want it; go away, you Christian. Thank you very much!" But I hope they would not. I hope they would show at least a decency to be academically respectful of alternative opinion. And just, what is that phrase, "Just please consider tne possibility you may be wrong."
[XX left]

# AB: CM, if you can stay for two minutes, I would like to ask you something. # CM: I have got to go, I have got a lot to do. I have got to go all day to Beverley tomorrow to the Minster. They have got an eco day, all day, and I am appearing on Green Christian stand there. That's an early start and late home, and I've got stuff to prepare for that.

[Zoom Recording stopped]
[1.18.20]

Contents

----- Other Material [zeo33]

--- Appendix 1: More Suggestions on Way Ahead [zeo34]

A day or two after this discussion, AB met MM from the Christian Academic Network, who then made two further suggestions for the way ahead:

--- Appendix 2. People and Groups to Contact [zeo35]

(See above).

--- References [zeo36]


Basden A. 2002. The Critical Theory of Herman Dooyeweerd ?, Journal of Information Technology, 17:257-69.


Basden A. (2009) "Practically Critical: Making the Critical Approach More Useful". pp. 41-68 in Critical Perspectives on Information Systems, Ed. C. Brooke. Elsevier.

Fiddes PS. 2013. Seeing the World & Knowing God: Hebrew Wisdom & Christian Doctrine in the Late-Modern Context. Oxford University Press.

Verkerk M, Hoogland J. 2018. Ecclesiastes for Managers:; Worldly Wisdom for Executives and Professionals. Dordt College Press, Iowa, USA.