The broad mission of economics mustn’t get lost in daily routines5 min read 27 Dec 2022, 10:46 PM IST
Here’s a reading list to illuminate the discipline’s ethical concerns that go well beyond the routine economic issues we focus on.
Two of the most celebrated sentences in economics are these: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages." Economists have had intense debates about what Adam Smith meant when he wrote this in The Wealth of Nations, a book published way back in 1776. The first interpretation is that Smith believed that the pursuit of raw greed would enrich society. The second interpretation, more in tune with his earlier book on moral sentiments, is that market exchange can only happen if we understand what others in society need; it is built on mutual trust.