Religion and Economics: Normative Social Theory
Normative Social Theory James M. Dean and A. M. C. Waterman University of Manitoba 1. Economics and Religion Once Again This hook is a sequel to Economics and Religion: Are They Distinct? (Brennan and Waterman 1994). That volume was motivated by a frustration born of many disappointing encounters between economists and theologians in the 1980s. Can bishops, synods, and other voices of organized religion bring any interesting (and disinterested) contribution to the public policy debate? If so, what is the relation of their contribution to that of the purely "secular" knowledge economists believe they can supply? Can economists bring any interesting (and disinterested) contribution to the public policy debate? If so, what is the relation of their contribution to the fundamental values that inform social ethics and that are still guarded to a large extent by religious tradition? All too often the two sides talked at cross-purposes. Well-intentioned economists coexisted for a few hours or days with well intentioned theologians whose manner of conceiving social reality was radically incompatible with their own. There seemed to be no common ground. The first requisite of any genuine conversation is an agreed conceptual framework that is able to accommodate the peculiar social vision both of the economist and of theologian, and to display the logical relation between the two.