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Reality (And The Economic Way of Thinking) Aren't Optional


Thomas Sowell is fond of asking whether reality is optional. As I tell my students, the economic way of thinking helps identify and define the non-negotiable constraints on social reality. Economics isn't "one way of looking at things." If you're advocating a higher minimum wage or protesting free trade while taking no need of the laws of demand or comparative advantage, you aren't being compassionate. You're being irresponsible. In my years as an economics professor, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the intersection between economics and ethics. Economists are excoriated for not being sufficiently appreciative of values and ethics, and indeed, it's true that economics as such cannot tell someone what values to have. Economics itself is value-free, but it is essential understanding.


Contact Art Carden

Art Carden is assistant professor of economics, Brock School of Business, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.

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