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Jan 29, 2008


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A major problem for modern secular economists is that they cannot go beyond “positive economics”, because they have no basis for ethical judgments. They are stuck with describing the way the economy functions. Some sneak beyond that by trying to demonstrate what will work. This brings an ethical standard in the back door. In the case of the positions you site, the ethical standard/goal they sneak in is efficiency.

The Chicago school say that the free market will lead toefficiency. The leftists say it won’t, but they can make the economy more efficient. The GMU says we don’t know what is efficient, but if we generally leave things alone we will get their in the own.

Each of these positions is stuck in positive economics where all they can do is describe how the economy works and perhaps get beyond that to what works best (or if we cannot resolve the epistimological problem, they cant).

Christians should do positive economics, but we need to move beyond that We have God’s standards in the scriptures, so we have an ethical base from which we can do “normative economics”. Our goal is not to find out what is efficicient, or what will work best. Our objective to find out what economic system is morally right. What complies with God’s word? What complies with God’s justice?

The truth is that what is right often does not work best. What is just may not be totally efficient. We should do it anyway.

So arguments about whether a particular type of economy is efficient or not is largely irrelevant. That means that we do not have to resolve the epistimological problem. We can bypass it by focussing on the moral problem (where we have a head start.) If we can establish what is right, we do not have to prove that it is efficient, because that is an irrelevant criteria. We should so what is right, even if it not efficient, and if we do not know whether it is efficient or not.

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