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

Overview

See also full version.

Abstract:

The practice and theory of economics is doing a lot of harm, to environment, to society, to psychology, to attitudes and so on. Many recent thinkers recognise need for radical change. 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 calling defining ecological ceiling and social floor. 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 call for a Circular Economy. Some address the macro level, some the micro. How may we integrate all this, and be ready for other ideas as they emerge? 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.

A vignette:

(Can be skipped.)

There was Economics, busying itself on the ground - and in the ground, mining it. Then along came Justice and complained about poverty and ill-treatment of workers. Along came Ecology, with animals, plants and ecosystems suffering from pollution and loss of home. Soon after, along came Climate Concern. On the sidelines was Theology, watching from a distance. Justice accused Ecology and Climate Concern of making poverty worse, but then came to see that without their help poverty would get far worse. From them was born Climate Justice, something of a warrior. Theology began to take sides. Compassion was silent.

Economics ignored them, feeling comfortable since its feet were on solid ground while they were all up in the air. A few friends of Economics pointed them out, but Economics took no notice. Then the earth quaked, and Economics was scared. Along came Government to pacify Economics (whom it depended on), while throwing a few kisses at Justice and Climate. Economics was doubtful. So were Justice, Ecology and Climate Concern. Lots of noisy arguments. Theology still looked on from a distance. Without warning, Pandemic entered, silencing everyone. Ecology and Compassion began to sing in the silence, but soon the clamour began again and drowned out the singing. God had enjoyed the singing. Indeed, the aim had been a choral symphony, right from the start.

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

All these require 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. A religious perspective is what can provide 'spark' and motivation. A Judeo-Christian perspective adds the idea of repentance, and a Christian perspective adds the possibility of salvation and grounds for hope. A Judeo-Christian perspective includes the idea of God proactively and lovingly intervening in surprising ways to solve problems that seem intractable to us, once we unconditionally repent. 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.