Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Separating the ideology from the science in economics, 13 Aug 2007
This is one of the best books I have read explaining ideology in economic thinking. The issues are potentially deeply confusing, with economists using the same words but different meanings and contradictory arguments, even in their own works. Foley unapologetically cuts through the verbage to extract the insights of Smith, Ricardo, Marx and later great economists, separating the ideology from the "science".

Of course, even in the "hard" sciences, ideology creeps in - and not just at the level of the observer affecting the observed. The very questions that many hard scientists choose to address come from an ideological stance, but their methods are intended to be scientific, and the same methods can be used in the social sciences, such as economics. Social scientists face a more difficult problem that their theories can change the societies they are studying. Foley makes a great contribution to understanding this problem.

The key issue addressed by Foley is how Smithian thinking (that the invisible hand is "good" and the economics that spring from perfect equilibrium are the best way of organizing society) can be fallacious. It is surprising how deeply embedded (often unconciously) in assumptions used by economists this has become. It have become almost a requirement to assume in economic theory e.g. "rational consumer behaviour" or the existence of a global social optimum, with associated conditions required by neoclassical economic theory. With this approach, mainstream economists have ended up declaring that the best outcome in a cost-benefit model of global warming is one with indefinite and probably accelerating climate change. (See the works of William Nordhaus and his followers). In these analyses, the risk-avoidance is turned into a negative economic return to ofset benefits from higher (private) consumption of (usually) marketable products. The value-laden assumptions behind the analyses are left largely undisclosed or for the expert to know.

Foley shows how such assumptions and models are based on ideology (or theology as he calls it). If you have ever suspected that much of economics as taught and practiced was purveying hidden ideological messages about the goodness of selfish and short-sighted behaviour at personal and national levels, then this is the book for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

4.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, informative, systematic, 2 Oct 2012
This review is from: Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology (Paperback)
Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology is as fascinating as the title would suggest. American Professor Duncan Foley gives a broadbrush account of the economics thinkers that have contributed to some of the most influential theories in the political economy. To any reader interested in how theories have developed or what famous terms such as the 'invisible hand' really mean, this book is a must for you.

Foley believes that Smith, in his 1776 classic The Wealth of Nations, commits a fallacy in believing that self interest when interacting with markets in the capitalist economic system creates a more desirable moral system as members of the economy are forced to, as a result, develop an interest and regard for others. There are a number of good reasons why Smith would believe this: property rights for example provide a springboard to self-interest economically speaking (such as owning business premises) whilst engendering a sense of regard for others (only functions if everyone respects each others business premises). Foley, a vehement opponent of this position, gives a good reason why this has proved not to be the case: capitalism has caused widespread socio-economic inequalities, hardly a symptom of care for others and a charitable society.

Foley goes on to give concise, clear and at times quite breathtaking reviews of some of the greatest economist-philosophers of all time. At times it is quite bizarre just how he manages to fit in and explain so clearly several concepts in the space of just a few pages. He begins with Adam Smith, the focal point of the book, before systematically moving onto Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Veblen and finally Keynes, with other more peripheral contributors in between such as Joseph Schumpeter and Vilfredo Pareto. What Foley does so well here is to pick out what is really important to know; providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding of each scholar with just the right amount of depth to keeping things both highly informative and very readable. For Smith for instance, Foley goes into great depths on the Division of Labour and Value Theory but less so on his theory of International Trade, as that aspect of Smith is complicated and not necessary to understand his general position and contribution to economics.

One minor quibble is that Foley fails to provide any damning textual evidence for Smith actually committing 'Adam's Fallacy.' This is a problem given that this concept features not only in the title but is referred to throughout the book. Foley defers to other academics to bring out direct textual references, but to be convinced that Smith makes this fallacy I would have liked to have seen it here. Nonetheless, this is exactly the kind of book that will be enjoyed by anyone interested in economic ideas and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology
Adam's Fallacy: A Guide to Economic Theology by Duncan K Foley (Paperback - 6 May 2008)
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews