*Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy*

By Mary L. Hirschfeld, here is the opening passage from the Preface:

My rather peculiar intellectual journey began with my pursuit of a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University, granted in 1989, and culminated in a second Ph.D. in theology, from the University of Notre Dame in 2013.  Economics and theology are two very different sets of discourses, and this book is the result of my effort to sort out the resulting cacophony in my own head.  When I began my career, I would never have imagined writing such a book.  For starters, I was an ordinary somewhat spiritually inclined but definitely not religious type when I began my academic career at Harvard in the fall of 1983.

Definitely recommended, and not just for Ross Douthat.  It is exquisitely written as well.  I enjoyed this sentence in the acknowledgements:

It is because of Tyler that I am a convinced Thomist, though that outcome would undoubtedly horrify him.

I am not easily horrified these days!  Thus there are doubts, always doubts.

Buy the book here.


I’m enjoying Douthat more these days now that he’s entered his late Orson Wells phase.

"Thus there are doubts, always doubts."

What is Tyler doubting? That Thomism is possibly true?

It's a joke, an allusion to Doubting Thomas. He probably thought he'd make the joke before jokes are made illegal.

I think the author is lying, not a cardinal sin but against the X commandments. She claims in the Amazon preview that she got her PhD in Economics in 1989, and had a sense of "excited discovery", citing the two books Discover Your Inner Economist (Cowen) (c) 2008 and Freakonomics: (Levitt) (c) 2005, where were published after she got her PhD, making her claim impossible. The only books that were available in the1980s along the lines of these two would have been New Ideas from Dead Economists by Todd G. Buchholz (c) late 1980s, and maybe The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner (which is about economists). So the author engages in poetic license.

Bonus trivia: what is a fair price? 99 cents. This was answered by T. Aquinas, but he did not ask "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?". He did however identify four cardinal virtues (Google it).

Ray, I think you read that excerpt too quickly. I don't see her tying her sense of "excited discovery" to those two book at all. She used them as examples of type of economics she found exciting, not particular works that excited her before getting her PhD.

Correct, Hirschfeld was clearly citing those books as examples of economists engaging in evangelizing, not citing them as playing a role in her initial "conversion".

I believe that Buchholz also overlapped with Tyler and Hirschfeld at Harvard. although he may've been in the law school rather than the econ dept.

Prosperity gospel wrapped around Aquinas. I suppose it's an improvement over the Protestant version sold to the faithful by Joel Osteen. I get her point: that capitalism has vastly improved the life of millions. And I shouldn't be such a skeptic. But her disclaimer, that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake is not the ultimate goal, seems rather pathetic given the self-absorbed behavior today of both the wealthy and the not wealthy and the bleak prognosis for the planet He entrusted us with.

bleak outlook? Please do enlighten us.

Why is the book so expensive? Way out of line.

It is Harvard University Press charging a typical Harvard University Press style price. If it were Oxford, the price would be $145, Chicago, Princeton, or Cornell closer to $25.

It is a pity because Chicago, Princeton, and Cornell make better physical books for the price. Also, I have not noticed a lack of editorial quality at those university presses compared to Harvard's or Oxford's. Must be to do with warehousing copies so they remain "in print." Fail to understand why university presses don't adopt print-on-demand.

“Definitely recommended, and not just for Ross Douthat.“

Best sentence of the year?

Maybe the Pope ought to read this book.

Is there a similar book but with Aristotle?

A book called For the Common Good by another ecologist-theologian mashup* has a chapter called From Chrematistics to Oikonomia, dealing at least in part with Aristotle. (*theologian John Cobb and ecological economist Herman Daly)

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