April 24, 2010

"The Economist Manifesto" by Amartya Sen

I just came across this via Mark Thoma's site Economist's View:
The economist manifesto, by Amartya Sen, Commentary, New Statesman: The 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith wasn’t the free-market fundamentalist he is thought to have been. It’s time we realized the relevance of his ideas to today’s financial crisis.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith's first book, was published in early 1759. Smith, then a young professor at the University of Glasgow, had some understandable anxiety about the public reception of the book, which was based on his quite progressive lectures. On 12 April, Smith heard from his friend David Hume in London about how the book was doing. If Smith was, Hume told him, prepared for "the worst", then he must now be given "the melancholy news" that unfortunately "the public seem disposed to applaud [your book] extremely". ... After its immediate success, Moral Sentiments went into something of an eclipse from the beginning of the 19th century... The neglect of Moral Sentiments, which lasted through the 19th and 20th centuries, has had ... rather unfortunate effects...

Read the rest here or click on the link above for Sen's full article at the New Statesman.

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