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Executive Summary

Yet Another Rethink of Economics

Overview, Contents and Summary

(These pages are best viewed in a narrowish window.)

There are several 'rethinks' of economics; why do we need another?

Many, many have been discussing what is wrong with economics over the past 50 years - a veritable plethora of opinions and discussions. We need to 'join the dots'; we need an integrated understanding of economics - its theory and its practice, economics as a discipline and as a sphere of life, its activities and its outcomes, its good and its bad points.

This rethink comes to economics from the outside, bringing a rare set of perspectives: from everyday life, from philosophy, from Christian (and other religious) thinking, from seeking to embrace rather than reject or take sides. But it also comes from within the inside of economics, engaging with economic theory and practice in detail: listening, affirming, critiquing and enriching. This has led to several main principles:

(These ideas are still being developed, but are substantially complete if you are forgiving.)

Overview of Main Principles of Rethink


That sums up our rethink or reframing of economics.

Contents of This Page

Structure of Site

This page: a contents list with summaries of each chapter and section. Reading through the summaries should give you an overall idea of what the Rethink / Reframing is about.

Ten chapters in three parts:

In Part III, Chapter 9 discusses, as a challenging example of how all that can be applied, to understand and prevent environmental destruction.

In Part I, Chapter 1 introduces the problems economics causes, not least environmental problems. Chapter 2 reviews recent and conventional thinking in economics - a plethora of proposals. Chapter 3 presents six perspectives from which we develop the rethink: everyday reality, embracing all views, a multi-aspectual philosophy of the world, a healthy a Christian and other religious perspective, an idea of Multi-aspectual Good, and our methodology of LACE. Embracing? Our rethink recognises valid insight and gross error in both capitalist and socialist economics, orthodox and heterodox, and treats them as part of the same picture.

What is in a Rethink? Pespectives that Guide Us

Every rethink of economics is guided by a number of perspectives, which shape it, often unconsciously. It is good to make them explicit. We have six:

Overview of Ten Chapters

Part 1: Introductory Chapters:

Part II - The Five Main Chapters

Part III - Applying All That

Especially Requiring Discussion:

Economic Growth
Environmental Economics
A Richer Understanding of Poverty and Inequality
GDP: An Initial Proposal
... and many more!

Contents with Summaries

Use this both as contents and also as a summary of the content. Read through summaries at any level, and you will gain an overview.

-- PART I - Introductory Chapters --

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter Summary: This chapter sets out the whats, whys and hows of this Rethink / Reformation of economics, so that readers can understand it more fully.

Chapter 2. A Brief Overview of Recent and Conventional Thinking in Economics

Chapter Summary: This chapter summarises a range of insights from recent thinkers, and perhaps also some conventional ideas from both left and right of economics. It ends with the need for an integrated picture and a way to detect other issues not yet widely discussed.

2-1. Overview of Recent Ideas

Summary: Recent ideas on the economy and many and disparate, yet each contains important insights.
2-2. Insights from Conventional Economics
Summary: Conventional economics, both left- and right-wing, also offers value insights, though also many that are not valid. The valid insights contribute to understanding how the economic aspect of reality itself operates.
2-3. Ideas from History
2-4. A Way Forward
Summary: We seek a framework for understanding economics as such. Instead of just responding to the above insights, we consider five main issues drawn from philosophy.
2-5. Conclusion

Chapter 3. Perspectives We Employ in Our Rethink

Chapter Summary: Six perspectives guide this rethink and make it possible: 1. Everyday life; 2. Embracing all ideas (left, right and recent); 3. Dooyeweerd's philosophical understanding of reality; 4. Christian/religious perspectives and the insights they bring; 5. Multi-aspectual Overall Good; 6. Engaging with extant ideas.

3-1. Pre-theoretical and Theoretical Stance: The Real, the Ideal and the Theory

Summary: We aim to take into account both the real and the ideal, both theory and the 'everyday' experience.
3-2. Embracing All Ideas
Summary: In rethinking, reframing economics we try to welcome and embrace all insights, regardless of source.
3-3. Dooyeweerd's Philosophy as Philosophical Foundation
Summary: Here we outline what readers will need of Dooyeweerd's philosophy in order to understand the Rethink.

3-4. Christian and other Religious Perspectives

Summary: Christian and other religious perspective can offer insights that are usually overlooked in economics theory and practice, but which are important for a full understanding of economics, and especially to motivate and enable deep change rather than just discuss.

3-5. Multi-aspectual Overall Good

Summary: The notion of Multi-aspectual Overall Good brings together the fragments of what many recent thinkers have drawn attention to.
3-6. Methodology: Engaging With Extant Ideas
Summary: In order to engage sensitively with extant ideas, whether recent or conventional, we Listen, Affirm, Critique, Enrich (LACE), and apply this to all dozen topics we include in economics.

-- PART II - Five Main Chapters --

Chapter 4. The Meaning, Mandate and Mindset of Economics

Chapter Summary: Economics does not reflect enough on its place among other spheres of life. We discuss the meaning and mandate of economics and the prevailing mindset towards economics, of isolation and reductionism instead of embeddedness among other spheres of life. We offer a new basis for discussing economic growth.

4-1. Views About Economics

Summary: How is economics defied and what are the weaknesses in these definitions? What Good can and should economics bring?

4-2. The Meaning of Economics

Summary: Economics: so what? The meaning of economics is given by the economic aspect of reality closely linked with all other aspects, omitting none. With the help of Dooyeweerd, but going further, we discuss what unique, kernel meaning the economic aspect offers.

4-3. The Mandate of/for Economics

Summary: What should economics aim to do in the world? Seldom is its mandate discussed. The mandate for economics is to help humanity manage what it deems resources with respect (frugally), so that, as we employ those resources we contribute towards Multi-aspectual Good.

4-4. Mindset-Attitude in Economics

Summary: Sadly, economics is often isolated from other spheres of life, both in its theories and its practice, and by both many economists and also by those who use economics. This is society's mindset towards economics; it tends towards reductionism and idolatry, but needs to change to embeddedness.

4-5. Towards Embedded, Meaningful and Good Economics

Summary: To overcome problems in economics we need to explicitly recognise multi-aspectual meaning, a mandate towards Good and abandon a mindsets that elevate, isolate or idolise economics, by recognising every aspect explicitly in both practice and tneory.

Chapter 5. Value

Chapter Summary: Economics does not know how to take full account of value beyond its sphere, such as of environment. This may be done systematically using Dooyeweerd's aspects.

5-1 Values and Economic Value

Summary: There are multiple, irreducibly distinct kinds of value. Economic value is only one kind and needs to be able to express all others faithfully.
5-2 What is Value?
Summary: Value has been variously understood. We link value of something to the Good in contributes, or could contribute, to Multi-aspectual Good. Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us understand the diversity of kinds of value.

5-3 Economic Value And Aspectual Value

Summary: Economic value is the value of an object as resource that enables us to function with wisdom in contributing sustainably to Multi-aspectual Good.
5-4 Assessing Value
Summary: Assessing value is a useful tool, but is complex and inherently distorts our understanding of real value, which need to be properly understood.

5-5. Applying The Above Ideas

Summary: Dealing with a few known issues can indicate how the above ideas can bring fresh insight.

5-6 Conclusions


Chapter 6. Economic Activity as Multi-aspectual Functioning

Chapter Summary: Economics does not have a strong enough understanding of the functioning and repercussions of economic activity, especially not of hidden attitudes and mindset. Dooyeweerd's ideas offer a practical understanding of this.

6-1. Some Theory About Economic Activity

Summary: The range of theories about how we behave in economic activity is wide, though not wide enough, and rather fragmented. We suggest how Dooyeweerd offers a fuller and more integrated picture.

6-2. Economic Activity as Multi-aspectual Human Functioning

Summary: If we understand economic activity as multi-aspectual functioning led by the economic aspect, then we discover a systematic, integrative treatment that is able to embrace most extant theories, and also recognise unpaid activity.

6-3. The Functioning of Mindset and Attitude in Economics

Summary: Mindset-attitude constitute a hidden societal structure that determines how we behave in economic activity. Because hidden, their effect is seldom discussed or understood, yet more important than most recognise. They may be understood as a combination of pistic and ethical functioning that retrocipatively impacts functioning in earlier aspects.

6-4. Some Comments on Adam Smith

Summary: A multi-aspectual understanding can throw fresh light on Adam Smith, especially his famous ideas of self-love and invisible hand.

6-5. Understanding Some Issues in Economics via Aspectual Functioning

Summary: This section demonstrates how the above understanding can help us rethink concepts, practices, paradoxes and problems in economics.

6-9. Conclusion on Functioning


Chapter 7. Good, Harmful and Useless Economic Activity

Chapter Summary: Economics does not adequately differentiate harmful and useless from good economic activity. We discuss how this may be accomplished by reference to Multi-aspectual Good and Dooyeweerd's aspects.

7-1. The Difference Between Good, Harmful and Useless Economic Activity

Summary: What are Good, Harmful and Useless economic activity? Why there is a problem here?

7-2. Good Versus Harm

Summary: On what basis to differentiate Harmful from Good economic activity, in both economics theory and practice?

7-3 Good versus Useless Economic Activity

Summary: Useless economic activity is of two types, unproductiveness and production of non-essentials, and both should be discouraged and reduced.

7-4. Assessing Good, Harmful and Useless Economic Activity

Summary: Some guidance on how to assess Good, Harmful and Useless separately.

7-5. Action to Reduce Harm, Discourage Useless and Increase Good

Summary: What changes are needed to bring into economics the distinction between Good, Harmful and Useless economic activity?

7-6 Some Issues in Economics

Summary: We show how understanding the difference between Good, Harmful and Useless can be applied to various economics issues.

7-7. Conclusion

Summary: ===== to be written

Chapter 8. Entities and Stuff in Economics

Chapter Summary: Economics puts too much emphasis on entities instead of the Good that we are called to do, resulting in fragmentation, envy and greed. Dooyeweerd helps us avoid this by making meaningfulness the foundation.

8-1. Entity-Oriented Thinking and Its Problems

Summary: Entity-orientation, which is rife in most fields including economics, presupposes existence as such rather than existence-as. Though it is a fundamental philosophical problem, it has generated a dozen problems in economics.
8-2 A New Understanding of Things
Summary: Dooyeweerd suggests we understand being and things via meaningfulness, so that existence is existence-as-X, where X is an aspect. This offers a richer understanding.

8-3. Addressing the Problems

Summary: The dozen problems arising from entity-orientation discussed earlier may be addressed and maybe resolved by this new understanding of entities.
8-5. Levels in Economics
Summary: Microeconomics, macroeconomics, global economics, etc. are levels that need integrating into a single framework. Dooyeweerd can offer such a framework: each level is a functioning in different main aspects, which also defines its main responsibility for bringing Overall Good.

8.9 Chapter Conclusion <

-- PART III - Going Forward --

Chapter 9. Exemplar: How This Might Apply to Environmental Economics

Chapter Summary: Environmental Economics can be affirmed, critiqued and enriched by following these principles.

9-1. Introduction: How We Approach Application

Summary: This section explains the background and how the chapter proceeds.
9-2. Discussions of Environmental Economics
Summary: The different discussions in the realm of environmental economics can all fit into a single picture, in which each is seen as focusing on specific aspects, and/or one or other of the pillars above.
9-3. The Meaning, Mandate and Mindset of Economics Applied to Environmental Issues
Summary: How should the field of economics (both practice and theory) see itself and be seen by others in relation to the environment?

9-4. The Multi-aspectual Value of Environment

Summary: The non-human environment has multiple values, all of which should be recognised in economics, and environmental economics focuses on those values, especially biotic and psychical. Values provides clear and compelling norms for economics.

9-5. Environmental Economic Functioning

Summary: Dooyeweerd's aspects and idea of inter-aspect dependency offers a clear framework for understanding the impact of economics on the environment, and vice versa, and of all other aspects on those, especially aspects of mindset and attitude.

9-6. Good, Harmful and Useless in Environmental Economics

Summary: Environmental economics presupposes but seldom explicitly discusses the difference between Good and Harmful and Useless economic functioning. Dooyeweerd's aspects and their innate normativity helps make this explicit, so that it can be studied and used to guide practice systematically.

9-7 Entities

Summary: The environment should be a key stakeholder in the economy, and responsibility for it occurs at all levels. Money and environmental capital should be seen as enabling good functioning, rather than as an owned commodity.
9-8. Strategy to Make Economics More Environmental
Summary: How do we make economics more environmental? This is how we can apply the above. Each aspect defines and guides a different kind of strategic action in each aspect. For both theory and practice must be affected.

9-9. Conclusion

Summary: The approach to economics developed in this Rethink can significantly contribute to making economics more environmentally responsible.

Chapter 10. Conclusion

Chapter Summary: So What and What Now? (not yet written)

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Created: 5 June 2023. Last updated: 6 June 2023 better links. 8 June 2023 r8 smy. 16 June 2023 new r4 smy, r4-mindset . 27 June 2023 discussion box. 27 June 2023 Chapter 6. 30 June 2023 redid 4-2, Meaning of economics. 1 July 2023 new intro. 29 September 2023 Chapter 7. 26 October 2023 bold and key takeaways. 9 November 2023 added to box; rw smy 4-1; Chp Smy DIV. 10 November 2023 reformatted it all to have indents etc. 13 November 2023 kt money. 29 November 2023 5-4.4 redone. 30 November 2023 7-4.5 INW added. 15 December 2023 new section 3-2 embracing; renumbered rest. 16 December 2023 3-3.8 aspanal. 28 December 2023 r4. 25 January 2024 r6 msll. 27 January 2024 r3 rlg persp 1,2. 30 January 2024 saving. 2 February 2024 3-5.4 Rlg 3. 9 February 2024 MAOG. 17 February 2024 extra 6.2.2; renumber. 22 February 2024 errors, and rw perspectives; ch3 smy. 24 February 2024 rw most so it explains about the rethink, and no longer tries to be a home page. 26 February 2024 rw intro qns. 21 March 2024 3-4 rw. 26 March 2024 3-4 merged into 3-7, all renumbered, summaries altered. 10 April 2024 new intro. 22 April 2024 ch 8 headings. 24 April 2024 smy for 3-4.1. 23 May 2024 rw KeyT of r5. 1 June 2024 r4 chsmy. 4 June 2024 r4 on econ asp rw. 8 June 2024 r4 s-roam. 13 June 2024 r4 hdgs.