Heterodox Economics and the Varied Manner of Moral Reflection

James Halteman and Edd Noell

in Reckoning with Markets

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199763702
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932252 | DOI:
Heterodox Economics and the Varied Manner of Moral Reflection

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Heterodox economics presents alternative critical explanations for the driving forces behind capitalism. The chapter examines the distinctive moral reflections expressed by Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, and Friedrich Hayek. Marx’s historical materialism relies on dialectical reasoning to explain class struggle and economic change. His valuation of human autonomy, as ultimately manifested in communism, drives his moral critique of capitalism. Veblen’s understanding of the complex instincts underlying economic activity lays a path for more extensive incorporation of moral reflections in economics. Yet his evolutionary economics posits no final purpose in human economic activity. Hayek challenges the perfect information assumption of neoclassical economics, finding that competitive markets continually generate new information that creates disequilibrium. His reflections on the origins of moral codes and critique of collectivist planning affirm the superiority of the norm of liberty. The chapter concludes with the vignette “Karl Marx: Can a Materialist Produce a Moral Critique of Capitalism?”

Keywords: heterodoxeconomics; karl marx; socialism; thorstein veblen; technological and ceremonial institutions; instinct of workmanship; friedrich hayek; coordination of resources; spontaneous order

Chapter.  6361 words. 

Subjects: Financial Markets

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