Research What Are You Reading...On the Genesis of Economics

What Are You Reading…On the Genesis of Economics

I am almost finished teaching my second semester of Business Ethics. While my students get a decent survey of moral norms from a variety of philosophical frameworks, the limitations placed on the class keep me from exploring many ideological underpinnings of the business world they will soon enter. After talking to other Business teachers about the content of their classes, I have learned that this lack this is not filled by other classes. I see this as a significant oversight, one which in my experience is made by numerous business programs. Students get an understanding of how things work now and the obligations they will have as employees or managers. They learn things like different leadership styles, ways to measure a company’s success, and how to attract workers. But topics like how these practices developed, the good or bad outcomes they create for society, and whether there are alternatives worth exploring, are marginalized or ignored.

If we want students to act just as functionaries, this is not inherently bad. But in an increasingly globalized world it is necessary for them to act as more than that. To take just one example, it was just announced that Donald Trump will not sign the G7 statement regarding tariffs. Properly evaluating the wisdom of this decision requires knowing not just what tariffs are and the uses they have, but the socio-political context that gave rise to them, how the concept of tariffs depends on basic economic concepts like money and nationality, and the way exchange works in the neoliberal system. Without such a background, appraisals of this decision will be short-sighted. Given how many people in the business world will be dealing with the outcomes of this decision, it is important for them to know more about the genealogical context that conditioned it. Here are some papers that provide a fraction of that context.


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  1. You could add a selection from H.B. Acton’s “The Morals of Markets” if it’s not already on the syllabus.


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