Towards a Rethink of Economics
- a Multi-aspectual Economics
enlivened with a Christian Perspective

Overview

See also full version.

Abstract:

Many now believe that economics needs to change its whole way of thinking (its paradigm), in both its practice and theory. Economic activity is doing a lot of harm in all areas of life.

But change is not happening where it matters, nor fast enough to stave off the coming disasters in these areas. Why not? What will make it happen? And is it important to happen?

These pages recognise and discuss three main reasons to why change is not happening. (a) The myriad recent thinkers and ideas each cover only bits of the problem, and There is no integrated view. (b) There is no paradigm that could redirect the whole practice and theory in the field of economics. (c) The ideas, even when intellectually satisfying, do not compel, and, though they might suggest action, they little grounds for hope. These pages, emerging from discussions after Mark Carney's 2020 Reith Lectures, try to take an integrated view, offer a soundly-based paradigm and offer a perspective that compels action and gives grounds for hope.

Introduction

Economics is doing a lot of harm, to environment, to society, to psychology, to attitudes and so on. The practice and theory of economics is bringing disasters in each of these areas. Many recent thinkers recognise need for radical change. Mark Carney calls us to values and responsibility. Laurent and Dasgupta warn about environmental damage. Goudzwaard, Jackson and Raworth call us to question adherence to economic growth, with Raworth suggesting Doughnut Economics. Mazzucato and Graeber warn us against unproductivity and "bullshit". The Manchester Collective and the UN Statistics Division emphasise the value of "mundane" work and unpaid household activity. Systems thinkers and environmentalists call for a Circular Economy. Some address the macro level, some the micro. Apparently, around 500 ideas have been published.

The dam that is holding them all back needs to burst and flood the field of economics so that it can once again be fruitful. How may we integrate all this, and be ready for other ideas as they emerge? Drawing on the ongoing discussions emerging from Mark Carney's 2020 Reith Lectures, by a group of Christian thinkers, this "rethink" tries to:

The result is what might be called Multi-aspectual Economics, which incorporates Embedded, Multi-valued, Moral, Multi-level, and Responsible Economics (instead of Isolated, Narrow, Harmful, Fragmented and Self-centred Economics). This might prove to be a new paradigm for economics, both its theory and practice.

1. Recent Thinking in Economics

Many recent thinkers have identified flaws in current economic theory and practice. For example, Mark Carney, Mariana Mazzucato, Kate Raworth, Tim Jackson, Andrew Hartropp, Partha Dasgupta, the United Nations Statistics Department's attempt at redesigning national accounts, and many more. However, they each focus on one or two problems. See Overview of Approaches to Economics. None of them is sufficient on its own.

This article seeks to draw a broader picture that can accommodate them all. See Section 2. Problems with the Economy

2. The Need to Widen Economics

The broader picture involves widening economics theory and practice in five major ways:

3. Philosophical Framework for Multi-aspectual Economics

This must not remain in the clouds as a trumpet call, but needs to be made systematic and operational. We need to understand what each entails. We achieve this with a radical philosophy by Herman Dooyeweerd. He proposed a suite of fifteen aspects of reality, each of which is a different way in which things may be meaningful, and gives us different kinds of laws, which enable us to function and which define what is Good versus Harmful. We use his suite of aspects as a philosophical framework to help us understand what is going on, where things are going wrong, and how to rectify this. See Section 4. Our Systematic Framework: Dooyeweerd's Philosophy

4. How to Widen to a Multi-aspectual Economics

We suggest the following ways in which each widening might be achieved:

This suggests an integrative conceptual framework for a new approach to economics - including perhaps its associated fields of finance, banking and business.

Some gaps remain to be filled, and all need to be worked out in more detail. This requires research and imaginative exploration to be worked out in practice and in economics theory. See Section 5. Using Dooyeweerd's Philosophy to Widen Economics

5. Conventional Economics

But what about conventional economics (of left or right)? Should it be rejected? We believe that it too offers insights, and may be accommodated within that wider picture. See Section 6. Engaging with Conventional Economics

6. Christian Perspective on Multi-aspectual Economics

Systematic frameworks can become boring, and, though they offer understanding, they do not compel action. Three things contribute to compelling action.

See Section 7. Enriching with a 'Christian' Perspective


This page, "http://christianthinking.space/economics/xnr.html", is part of Christian Thinking in Economics, which is part of Christian Thinking Space.

Written in the style of classic HTML, using Protext and Pagestream on an Amiga 1200.

Created: 29 October 2021. Last updated: 6 November 2021 Vignette. 8 November 2021 section numbers corrected. 9 November 2021 named the areas. 10 November 2021 'instead of'. 17 November 2021 rw asps. 27 November 2021 abstract; better title (was "Rethinking the Economy, Towards a Multi-aspectual Economics enlivened with a Christian Perspective"). 6 December 2021 none suff. 13 December 2021 better abstract, giving four points; vignette in box. 20 December 2021 sp. 24 December 2021 God intervening. 28 December 2021 non-ess. 31 December 2022 rw. 5 January 2022 renamed Unconcerned Economy as Self-Centred Economy, errors. 27 January 2022 gaps. 29 January 2022 rw 'abstract' and split into Introduction. 19 February 2022 Moved Vignette to index; corrections. pdf. 11 May 2022 clearer Xn Persp.