Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

ON THE ORIGINS OF VALUES AND PREMISES IN SOCIAL ECONOMICS

Three chapters form the core of the first main section on the origins of values and premises in social economics. They are presented first because all three clearly relate to the first component of social economics.

In "Economic History as a Source of Socioeconomic Normative Value" Lewis E. Hill argues that, instead of being mere statements of metaphysical opinions and dogmas, socioeconomic normative values are logical or scientific conclusions induced empirically from previous economic history and verified empirically by reference to subsequent economic history. In this regard, Hill presents several hypotheses on how socioeconomic values grow out of economic history, including Henry Margenau's theory of normative value, the axiological aspects of pragmatic philosophy, John Dewey's instrumental theory of normative value, and the institutionalist value theories of Thorstein Veblen and Clarence Ayres.

Hans E. Jensen's "John Stuart Mill: A Herald of Social Economics" argues that Mill was a precursor of two main strands of contemporary social economics: the institutionalism of Clarence Ayres and the humanism of Amitai Etzioni. As to the first strand, the reader will note the connection to the preceding essay by Hill. As to the second, Jensen calls attention to Etzioni's synthesis of neoclassicism and deontology. To support his claim regarding Mill's role as a precursor, Jensen points to Mill's theory of human behavior, his embryonic neoclassicism and institutionalism and their linkages to poverty, his institutionalist social economics, and his insistence on the role of universal education in promoting the good society.

John E. Elliott's "Philosophical Foundations of Social Economics: Marx, Schumpeter, and Keynes" explicates the major philosophical foundations of social economics: philosophy of history, metaphysics, epistemology, moral philosophy, and aesthetics. In examining the implications of each of these domains of philosophical reflection for the social economy and, thereby, the differentiating perspective of social economics, the essayist

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