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The autonomy of economics from Judeo-Christian thought: a critique

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In the contemporary relation between economics and Judeo-Christian thought, Smith identifies three positions. These are disciplinary autonomy for economics, disciplinary interdependence between economics and Christian thought, and distinctively Christian economic analysis. Little evaluation has been made of these positions. Two representatives, as Smith classifies them, of the disciplinary autonomy and interdependence positions are evaluated from the distinctively Christian economic analysis viewpoint. Unlike Smith's classification, both J. David Richardson and Anthony Waterman are assessed as belonging to the disciplinary autonomy group, in which mainstream orthodox economic science is allegedly able to proceed independent of religious input. This position is criticized insofar, as Richardson's major and influential paper in the area (1988) is found to disregard any appraisal of the contribution of modern orthodox economic theory to the explanation of real world processes, and to overlook the contribution Christian thought might make to economic explanation. Both Richardson and Waterman assume an understanding of the "science" in economic science that is problematic, while Waterman utilizes arguments from the philosopher Leslek Kolakowski, and the economist Frank Knight, that are contestable from a Christian perspective.
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Keywords: Economic Theory; Religion; Sciences

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 13, 2003

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