Withdrawn--------------------Economics—reconsidering the nature of the inquiry
Paper withdrawn The Inspirational Paradigm begins with a survey of current business education needs, concluding with the statement, “we cannot continue to do “business as usual.”” A second section presents a set of hungers or desires that drive out students’ “idealism and their sense of hope.” These desires create curricular demands for educators and educational programs. Specifically, our students’ call for an educational experience that is “integrated” and helps them “acquire an ethical foundation.” The final section of the Inspirational Paradigm calls for a renewal of Jesuit Business Education. It states that, “A Jesuit education in business is firmly based upon an ethical framework that emphasizes the fundamental questions of the dignity and the potential of the individual, the centrality of the common good, and the importance of social networks that affirm and support human flourishing.” It further states that, “Each academic field—marketing, finance, accounting, management, human resources, etc.—acknowledges that the present approach to business education, with its emphasis on the profit motive and neglect of social good, contributes to an unsustainable economy that does not support human flourishing.” With this acknowledgement of inadequacy, the Inspirational Paradigm concludes its call: “Each academic field should then offer an alternative vision based on ethical principles and the promotion of virtue. What is best for all and for the planet?” “The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem to be solved.” Faculty may be a bit displeased when asked to construct an alternative vision of their discipline because, they are told, the current vision they have been teaching does not support human flourishing. It is entirely likely that the majority of faculty are quite wedded to their work, including their teaching. Many economists will reject the premise outright. They will contend that economics is all about human flourishing. Economists will likely also reject a call for an ethical framework. They will likely contend that they are doing economic science. The economists’ reactions just described reflect a shared vision of the discipline—the current vision. Again, modern economics presents itself as scientific. It celebrates its (unsuccessful) attempt to be aethical—value neutral. Its findings, its economic laws, and its conclusions about the value of market economies are seen by young students to have the authority of science. Claims regarding the law of demand or economic efficiency are seen as co-equal to claims regarding the law of gravity or, say, the second law of thermodynamics from physics. Regardless of level, undergraduate or graduate, economics education instills this view in all its students. Another aspect of the modern vision of economics is a narrowness. While economists appear with great regularity on news shows and in print, their investigations and commentary are, for the most part, restricted to questions of resource allocation—how individuals, families, societies allocate their resources. The bulk of the topics addressed in the Inspirational Paradigm are judged to be outside the now narrow scope of the discipline. In its current manifestation, economics leaves questions of equality, the inherent value of the environment and the inherent value of the human person to other disciplines. This problem of scope and the lack of ethics—not just in economics—is the rationale for the Inspirational Paradigm. The Inspirational Paradigm exists because present business education is inadequate to the concerns raised in Laudato Si and earlier Church documents. It is an explicit recognition of the fundamental issues faced by all societies and the needs of our students—and how these issues and needs demand new frameworks. It does not, could not, present a replacement approach for each of the fields represented in business education. Instead, the Inspirational Paradigm defines the parameters of these new frameworks. The task of creating the new frameworks is left to the individual disciplines. This paper suggests some initial steps towards the provision of an economics education that answers the Paradigm’s call for a reimagining of the teaching economics at Jesuit institutions of higher learning. A first step seeks to establish the discipline’s current context. The rise of scientific/aethical economics and its narrow purview traces back to the early 20th-century. The rise of this vision is a sharp break from the history of the discipline. Traditionally, economics and economic questions were part of moral philosophy and part of a much greater discussion of good conduct and improving societal welfare. If the goals of the Inspirational Paradigm are to be realized, economics faculty will need to see that their economics is the economics of this era, only the recent vision of the discipline. Out of this recognition economics faculty will have to ground their teaching and research of economics on a broader ethical foundation that retains the efficiency properties of their current, if implicit, ethical framework, while broadening the foundation to address the concerns identified in Laudato Si and the Inspirational Paradigm. A second step follows from the first. Economics is currently hamstrung by its attempt to purge ethics from the discipline. That self-imposed restriction is the source of narrowness mentioned above—the topics and associated policy discussions that can be addressed under the guise of neutrality is extremely limited. With this constraint removed, the discipline will be free to take up question distribution and inequality. It will be able to enter discussions of needs vs. wants. It will be able to entertain alternative sources of value—in the environment and in the human person. We economists will be able to ask more and better questions.