The Value of Values in Economics

A paper presented at the Joint Conference by Dr Peter Bowman, Head of Economics, School of Philosophy and Economic Science

Abstract: The financial and economic crash of 2008 and its aftermath has seriously called into question the usefulness of conventional economics as taught in the majority of universities. Since that time there have been a number of initiatives to re-formulate the subject. The School of Economic Science is an educational charity that has been offering courses in value-based economics for over seventy years, most recently under the title: Economics with Justice. Its courses offer an ethical approach to economics that could provide an example of an alternative approach to the subject for those seeking a reformulation. The present course is offered in three termly modules.

The first unit introduces the basic elements of the subject but from the perspective of justice. It explores issues such as employment, land tenure, banking, credit creation and taxation not just dealing with the mechanisms in operation but also from the perspective of their inherent justice or injustice. In the second unit the history of the development of economic ideas is followed. As in the first module the approach is not just to look at the content of these ideas and their effects but also to consider how they relate to justice. The third module explores recent developments in economics relating to growth and sustainability. By also including the topic of human development it opens for consideration the need for man’s inner growth as well as the satisfaction of his outer needs. The paper will describe this example of a values based approach to economics.